The Word Nerds: A Weekly Podcast About Words, Language, and Why We Say the Things We Do

Find out who we are.

Please vote for our podcast every month at PodcastAlley.

Podcast Alley
Fill out our audience survey.
Join our Frappr map.

Word Nerds Frappr Map
Free subscription:

Click to open the iTunes page for The Word Nerds.

The Word Nerds Odeo channel

Download Juice, the cross-platform podcast receiver


Send an email.






January 2006
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

Want this badge?

Powered by
Liberated Syndication

copyright © 2005, 2006 by Dave Shepherd, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang

Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise specifically attributed, all original work in this site and feed (including all audio files, web pages, and images) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Dave Shepherd explains why we have a new Nerd Number (206-600-NERD). For the next couple weeks you'll hear two different numbers mentioned in alternating shows, since we pre-recorded several shows before switching phone numbers. (1:52)

Dave Shepherd and Howard Chang talk about the weather without doing anything about it. (This is a reference to a quote from Mark Twain.) (2:16)

Song: 'Rainfall,' by Hungry Lucy (7:28)

Weather metaphors (11:20)

Dave talks about the play Alle Wetter (Thunderation) by Erich Mühsam (18:45)

Music bumper from 'Necessary Rain' by Emile Westergaard (20:29)

Rude word of the week: 'fair-weather friend' (21:01)

Song: 'Pray for Rain,' by Allison Crowe (23:36)

Ways of describing the weather (27:55)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 34:55
size: 16 Mb

rating: G (Schoolchildren everywhere are waiting for snow--or even wintry mix.)

Categories: , , ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-28.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:49am EDT

Dave Shepherd and Howard Shepherd get a buzz out of talking about onomatopoeia. (Did I spell that right?) (1:52)

Song: 'Crash Bang Boom!' by Ellen Rosner (5:48)

Animal sounds around the world (source: Sounds of the World's Animals website) (8:07)

Music bumper from 'Small Thuds in the Night' by Happy Ashtray (12:22)

Rude word of the week: the Bronx cheer (which we can't really spell out) (13:05)

Song: 'The Buzz is Over,' by Macle (15:05)

Other examples of 'word music' (18:54)

  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Consonance
  • Rhyme
  • Phonetic intensives

Howard reads 'Meeting at Night,' by Robert Browning (21:48)

Music courtesy of

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 24:47
size: 11.4 Mb

rating: G (Onomatopoeia is really a kid's thing. We say 'fart' in our Rude Word segment, but that's as rude as it gets.)

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-21.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:38pm EDT

A short plea for help, suggestions, support for the Online Etymology Dictionary, maintained as a labor of love by Douglas Harper, and falling victim to its own success.

time: 2:27
size: 2.3 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-16.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:27pm EDT

Dave Shepherd, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang share some of their favorite words--words that Word Nerds would like. (1:57)

Words whose sounds we like (2:57)

  • wlonk
  • humuhumunukunukuapua'a
  • aglet
'SAT words'--words every smart high school student should know. (6:53)
  • indefatigable
  • benevolent
  • malevolent
Song: 'Certain Words in Uncertain Times,' by This Providence (8:45)

Words whose etymologies interest us (11:56)

  • helicopter
  • dactyl
Music bumper from 'The Helicopter' by Boblex (13:47)

Rude word of the week: 'sycophant' (14:22)

Song: 'Favorite Song,' by Tony Rodd (17:27)

Just some more cool words we like (21:29)

  • apheresis/aphæresis
  • time
  • anthropomorphic
Please share your favorite words with us here on the website, in the comments section. Or leave a voicemail on our new and improved Nerd Number, 206-600-NERD (206-600-6373).

Music courtesy of

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 27:52
size: Mb

rating: PG (The Rude Word segment has a couple fairly rude synonyms for 'sycophant.')

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-14.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:54am EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd introduce a voicemail from Jeff in Houston, Texas, on the infrequency of Christmas (1:56)

Howard and Dave make a conceptual leap by exploring metaphor and metonymy. (3:25)

Song: 'Similar,' by Erich Specht (11:34)

Promo for Will and Iris (14:49)

The development of metaphor in linguistic maturity (15:13)

Music bumper from 'Like Shine' by Likeshine (17:17)

Rude word of the week: 'asshole' (17:43)

Song: 'Like Tears in Rain,' by P.W. Fenton and The Second Ward (19:45)

Visual metonymy and metonymic gesture in film (22:55)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 28:17
size: 13 Mb

rating: PG-13 (Our Rude Word is one you wouldn't say to your mother, really.)

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-07.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:04am EDT