Welcome to the Wordlady blog!

This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
You can also order my best-selling books, Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to do With Pigs and Only in Canada You Say. Fun and informative!


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About me

Katherine Barber
Canada's Word Lady”
201 Hanson Street
Toronto, ON M4C 1A7

I recommend Ms. Barber highly.
She is articulate, intuitive, has the timing of the finest stand-up comedian and 
the acuity of the sharpest academic. 
She has the power to engage her audience and 
make them wiser than they were 
before her thoughtful monologue.”
Geoff Roberts, Headmaster, The Crescent School, Toronto

For the past three days I have been receiving phone calls and emails 
from CFUW members expressing their delight with your presentation.
One member pointed out how rare it is to find a speaker 
who can deliver learned and fascinating content with wonderful wit.
Another simply said that you were the best speaker we have had in the past 3 years.”
Anna Guthrie, Program convenor, University Women's Club of North Toronto

"You were key in making our event a success."
Marg Bowman, Grimsby Museum

Best-selling author

Canadian Oxford Dictionary
(over a year on the Globe and Mail bestseller list)
Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to do With Pigs
(14 weeks on the Maclean's bestseller list)
Only in Canada, You Say: A Treasury of Canadian English

Media Personality

The Word Lady”. Regular word history segment on CBC Radio,1996 to 2001
Regular TV and radio appearances as an expert on 
language in general and Canadian English in particular
Say It” weekly word history in the Toronto Star,
January 2009 to March 2011


No matter what I'm talking about, I make people laugh. A lot.

Over 200 speaking engagements across Canada and in the US in the last 10 years
Clients: Government of Ontario, Government of Canada, crown corporations, 
Probus Clubs, Canadian Clubs, Rotary Clubs, University Women's Clubs,
University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, Ryerson LIFE Institute, lifelong learning and retired teachers associations, public libraries, professional associations, schools, universities, church groups, The National Ballet of Canada

Expert Witness (trademark litigation)
Heenan Blaikie LLP
Peacock Linder LLP
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP


Why is English so wacky?
A fun-filled and light-hearted but informative look at the weirdness of the English language and how it got to be the way it is. Includes things you never suspected about husbands, ptarmigan, porcelain, and much more. Laughs guaranteed...even when you find out why "guarantee" has such an odd spelling.

Bachelor for Rent:
Things You Never Suspected About 
Canadian English”
A hilarious look at what is distinctive about
Canadians and their language

Plain English: How to Improve your Communications”

English Schminglish: How Jews have Enriched our Language”
An entertaining look at how Hebrew and Yiddish words have enriched the English language for thousands of years
Would you like to improve your professional or industry association meetings with a little light relief from the information-heavy and serious (and, let's say it, often boring) presentations? I can tailor a fun talk to just about any topic. I recently  entertained the general meeting of the Adhesives and Sealants Manufacturers Association of Canada with a talk about words related to sticky stuff. If I can do it for glue, I can do it for you!

Please contact me to see what I can do for you.

Awards and Honours
Editor of the Year Libris Award,
Canadian Booksellers Association, 1999
Book of the Year Libris Award,
Canadian Booksellers Association, 1999
Specialty Book of the Year Libris Award,
Canadian Booksellers Association, 1999
Distinguished Alumni Award,
University of Winnipeg, 2000

Kenneth R. Wilson Silver Award
(Canadian Business Press and Magazines Canada), 2010

About Me

My photo
Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.