Word Matters

By Merriam-Webster, New England Public Media

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Description

Word Matters is a show for readers, writers, and anyone who ever loved their English class. Join Merriam-Webster editors as they challenge supposed grammar rules, reveal the surprising origins behind words, tackle common questions, and generally geek out about the beautiful nightmare that is language.


Episode Date
8. A Collection of Obscure Words That Are Pretty Much Useless
00:09:11

Sometimes, a word falls out of use through no fault of its own. Other times, the blame lands squarely on the word's shoulders. Here's Ammon Shea with a special batch of words that were just too specific or too unnecessary to live.

Sep 16, 2020
7. 'Matriculate': A Word on the Move
00:19:22

Today we travel to the wide world of sports to ask the question (we assume) everyone's been pondering: how did the word for enrolling in a school start being used to describe the movement of a football down a field? Then, we examine the origins of a word that once burned, literally.

Sep 09, 2020
6. Sorry, But Shakespeare Didn't Create That Word
00:19:51

One of the most cherished and enduring myths about the English language is that its vocabulary was largely populated through the genius of a single man: William Shakespeare. Without seeking to diminish the importance of the man who was undeniably influential, we would like to point out that this is just not the case.

Sep 02, 2020
5. Can I Get a Word in the Dictionary?
00:26:55

Most of the time, we are sorry to say, the word you invented won’t make it into the dictionary. Except, on occasion, when it does. Today, we tell the story of one such rule breaker: ‘scofflaw.’ Then, we look at all the various shapes and forms the word ‘mustache’ has taken over the years, before shaving itself down to its current spelling.

Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.

Produced in collaboration with New England Public Media.

Transcript available here.

Aug 26, 2020
4. How Do You Even Pronounce 'Antennae' Anyway?
00:25:11

After a job well done, you might receive kudos. But today we ask: can you ever receive just one? Or is it just the sound of one hand clapping? Then, we explore a topic that loves to make even the most seasoned English speakers second-guess themselves: Latin plurals.

Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.

Produced in collaboration with New England Public Media.

Transcript available here.

Aug 19, 2020
3. A Collection of Obscure Words That You Might Find Useful
00:10:00

Few parts of the English language fascinate its users more than obscure and obsolete words. Today, our in-house collector of errant words Ammon Shea brings us a few words that may have been lost to history, but perhaps might be worth picking up and dusting off.

Aug 14, 2020
2. Setting Sail on a Semantic Drift
00:26:37

Terrific. Fantastic. Wonderful. Can we properly use these words without referring to terror, fantasy, or wonder? Today our editors look at one of the most dependable sources of language change: semantic drift. Then, we cool down with a discussion of how ‘ice’ and ‘iced’ function to describe various refreshing beverages.

Aug 13, 2020
1. 'Irregardless': You Don't Have to Like It
00:24:11

Welcome to Word Matters! In our first episode, we ask a simple but surprisingly complex question: when is a meal supper and when is it dinner? Is there even a difference? Then, we navigate one of English’s most fraught topics. That’s right, we’re talking about the word (yes, WORD) irregardless.

Aug 12, 2020
Introducing Word Matters
00:02:33

From the editors at Merriam-Webster, Word Matters is a show for readers, writers, and anyone who ever loved their English class. 

Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.


Produced in collaboration with New England Public Media.

Aug 04, 2020