10 episodes

A few stolen minutes out of your day to talk words and communication, because punctuation is more than confetti and you’ve always wondered if you should teach your dog to “lay” or “lie” down. Words. Language. Human communication. Everything begins there.



Kris Spisak, author of Get a Grip on Your Grammar, is ready for your moments of temporary hesitation or bewilderment. The English language can be difficult, but who says talking about it can’t be educational and entertaining?

Words You Should Know Kris Spisak

    • Language Learning
    • 4.6, 10 Ratings

A few stolen minutes out of your day to talk words and communication, because punctuation is more than confetti and you’ve always wondered if you should teach your dog to “lay” or “lie” down. Words. Language. Human communication. Everything begins there.



Kris Spisak, author of Get a Grip on Your Grammar, is ready for your moments of temporary hesitation or bewilderment. The English language can be difficult, but who says talking about it can’t be educational and entertaining?

    S3: E6 – Why “Soccer” instead of “Football,” Americans? Seriously, why?

    S3: E6 – Why “Soccer” instead of “Football,” Americans? Seriously, why?

    Do you know what’s been bugging me for an awfully long time? Why do we, in America, call soccer “soccer”? Why isn’t it football, as the sport is called throughout most of the rest of the world? "Football" makes sense. In soccer, you’re using your feet. In American football, there’s minimal kicking involved. Do the kickers and punters get all the attention? Hardly. So what’s up with that?



    Let me ask this, who first used the word “soccer”? Was it someone in England or the United States?



    And "football," of course, is hardly the only word that stems from a body part. "Foot" linked with "ball" is pretty self-explanatory. A few others a bit more surprising in this category include "gargoyle," "hysteria," "genuine," and "handsome." I can't help myself. I have to share a bit more.



    This is the "Words You Should Know" podcast, Season 3: Episode 6. Words. Language. Communication. You've got this.

    • 7 min
    S3: E5 – Where Do We Get the Word “Hipster”?

    S3: E5 – Where Do We Get the Word “Hipster”?

    Where Do We Get the Word "Hipster"? One of the earliest known uses of it is an article in the New York Tribune complaining about the drinkers in New York hotel dining rooms around the start of Prohibition. Why were they called “hipsters”? Because of the flasks hidden on their hips, of course! It makes perfect sense. I’m not sure it will work with skinny jeans, though...



    Some words are cooler than cool, and this is one of them. Hipster. And is it related to hippie?



    Hip hip hooray. Hip. Hep. Let’s get excited, folks. This is the "Words You Should Know" podcast, Season 3: Episode 5. Words. Language. Communication. You've got this.

    • 6 min
    S3: E4 – The Origin of “Silhouette” & How Do You Spell “Piecemeal” (“Peacemeal”? “Piecemail”?) Anyway?

    S3: E4 – The Origin of “Silhouette” & How Do You Spell “Piecemeal” (“Peacemeal”? “Piecemail”?) Anyway?

    Norrie Epstein once said, “The best writing advice I ever received: facts are eloquent.” Oh how much I love this statement. Sometimes, these facts are world changing. Sometimes, these facts are word-changing—or, at least in how you perceive certain uses of language.



    Today’s question for you is what’s the origin of “silhouette”? And if you’re doing something "piecemeal," how do you spell that? From Old English to the Seven Years War, there are all sorts of language truths to discover. Let’s work on using our words well. Perhaps today, it starts with spelling. Tomorrow, who knows?



    This is the "Words You Should Know" podcast, Season 3: Episode 4. Words. Language. Communication. You've got this.

    • 7 min
    S3: E3 – The origin of “compete” and “boycott” & is “lineup” / “line up” one or two words anyway?

    S3: E3 – The origin of “compete” and “boycott” & is “lineup” / “line up” one or two words anyway?

    The Irish author Samuel Beckett once wrote, “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” I love this idea, in talking about communication skills as well as so many other areas of life.



    Today’s question for you is what’s the Latin origin of the word “compete”? Is it to be the best? Is to work hard? Is it to strive together? Is it the physical collision of two bodies? Only one of those is correct. Think on that.



    And while we’re thinking about competition, consider the word (or should I say words?) "lineup" and "line up." Kindergartners line up with their classmates. A football team’s lineup is set before the game begins (and hopefully if you’re playing fantasy football, yours is too). It’s one of those words that baffles. People tend to have their thumbs hovering over that space bar, quivering, nervous about that space or no space, or hyphen! Yes, that’s it, hyphen! No, wait, it’s just one word… I get it. It’s the little things that are sometimes never explained.



    And since we’re talking about competitions and lineups today, let’s also turn to the fascinating background of the word "boycott." Have you ever boycotted something? Do you know where this word came from?



    This is the "Words You Should Know" podcast, Season 3: Episode 3. Words. Language. Communication. You've got this.

    • 8 min
    S3: E2 – “Bragging rights” (or “rites”)? “Rites (or “rights”) of passage”? And what’s the story about “braggadocio”?

    S3: E2 – “Bragging rights” (or “rites”)? “Rites (or “rights”) of passage”? And what’s the story about “braggadocio”?

    Are grammar skills a rite/right of passage? Perhaps. Should you have bragging rights/rites about it? You're better than that, aren't you, folks? My biggest question here, though, is how do you spell those "rights" and "rites"? "Rite" or "right" of passage? Bragging "rights" or "rites"?



    And let’s get a bit language nostalgic and take a walk down word memory lane. I recently stumbled on an amazing resource from the American Dialect Society that recorded most popular words of the year—words and phrases that filled American pop culture, words most likely to succeed, words that were the most unnecessary, and more—for every year between 1990 and 2018. These are fascinating.



    Plus, from "#humblebrag," 2011's contender, to those bragging rights/rites, “brag” as an English word does have stories of its own. Brag. Braggarts. Braggadocio. There's so much to explore here. Who's ready to dive in?



    This is the "Words You Should Know" podcast, Season 3: Episode 2. Words. Language. Communication. You've got this.

    • 8 min
    S3: E1 – The History of “Mesmerize” & Looking for the “Mother Lode” (or “Mother Load”?) of English Language Tips

    S3: E1 – The History of “Mesmerize” & Looking for the “Mother Lode” (or “Mother Load”?) of English Language Tips

    The English language can be mesmerizing. In the hands of a talented wordsmith, you can be entranced. But, do you know the origin of the word “mesmerize”? I love this story.



    And as I was debating the pieces of this first podcast of "Words You Should Know," season 3, I wanted something awesome, something that might surprise you or catch you off guard, the mother lode/load of communication tips. And then it hit me. Mother lode/load. Are you spelling this correctly?



    I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for more writing tips. A mother lode of them (yep, that's the correct spelling). But you don’t have to dig through dirt and craggy rocks to unearth them. I’ve been sharing my language notes and writing tips pretty much weekly since the fall of 2012, but you know what? I’m nowhere close to done. Thanks for that, confusing English language. Thanks oh-so-much for that.



    This is the "Words You Should Know" podcast, Season 3: Episode 1. Words. Language. Communication. You've got this.

    • 7 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
10 Ratings

10 Ratings

Debjd ,

Interesting and helpful

Kris brings energy and enthusiasm to the importance of good grammar. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to this quick and meaningful podcast. Each episode offers fascinating insights that will boost your confidence in speaking/writing.
Thanks Kris!

jwc23225 ,

Refreshingly Fun

It’s nice to have a creative and thoughtful podcast about words. You can hear the Kris’ love of language come through. The theme mucus is upbeat and catchy too.

Richmond Music Scene ,

Looking forward to more...

Kris Spisak's podcast is a wonderful new addition. Informative and entertaining. Do I really have to wait a whole week for the next one? Darn.

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