WORDS AND THEIR STORIES
授课人：Julia Lee 授课材料：英语词汇典故（English words and their stories） 课程类型：欣赏与讲座(Appreciation and lectur
e) 授课时间： 授课对象：高二年级部分学生
Some students from Senior Two
进入高二年级后，随着英语词汇量的增大，阅读难度的加深，学生由于疲于 应付考试，英语学习兴趣明显减退，自主学习能力也随之下降。针对这一情况， 本人根据学校要求，开设校本课程培训。目的在于培养学生的英语学习兴趣，提 高他们自主学习和探究的能力， 增进他们跨文化意识， 从而养成终身学习的习惯。 该校本课程内容的编写是以美国之音特别英语节目中词汇典故栏目(VOA Special English Program: Words And Their Stories)为蓝本，加上部分英语词汇在二 十世纪以来的一些新增意义的探究。一改以往词汇教学的呆板与机械。使知识性 与趣味性有机结合，拓展学生视野，增强他们的求知欲。 该校本课程授课形式灵活多样：既有听力训练又有阅读欣赏，既有专题讲座 又有话题讨论，并结合阶段检测与结业测试。 材料准备主要包括校本课程材料编写，多媒体视听设备的准备。 学生成绩主要由平时表现，阶段检测以及结业测试来评定。
CONTENTS 1. Insect Expressions: I Don't Mean to Bug You……………………………4 2. To Touch All Bases: Baseball Rules …………………………………………5 3. Stock Market: The Business of Investing …………………………………7 4. Hands: She is Making Money Hand-Over-Fist ……………………………8
5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Colors: I'm Feeling Very Blue Today…………………………………………9 Chickenfeed: It Doesn’t Add Up to Much…………………………………..11 Nuts and Bolts: The Mechanics of Any Organization…………………12 Hot: He Was a Hotheaded Hot Shot ………………………………………14 Blizzard: Don't Let This Expression Snow You…………………………15
10. From Couch Potato to Cabin Fever………………………………………16 11. Hit: If a Student's Grades Hit Botton, It Is Time to Hit the Books……………………………………………………18 12. Words and Their Stories: America's Fifty States, What's In a Nickname……………………………………………………………20 13. Nicknames: Americas 50 States (Second of Four Parts)……………21 14. Nicknames: Americas 50 States (Third of Four Parts)………………22 15. Nicknames: Americas 50 States (Fourth of Four Parts)……………24 16. White Christmas: One of the Best Loved Holiday Songs……………25 17. Money, Money, Money: Dinner Is on the House………………………26 18. More Money: Money Can Make People Do Strange Things…………28 19. Money: He Hit the Jackpot……………………………………………………29 20. Water: She Is In Hot Water………………………………………………….30 21. Losing It: It's Hard When You Lose Control……………………………32 22. Monkey: No Monkey Business Here………………………………………33 23. Kick: This Is an Idea Worth Kicking Around……………………………35 24. Rocket Scientist: You Do Not Have to Be Extremely Intelligent to Understand This…………………………………36 25. Wild Cat: Is It a Fast Car or False Money? ………………………………38 Afterwords………………………………………………………………………………
1. Insect Expressions: I Don't Mean to Bug You There are many American expressions about insects -- like bees, for example. Bees are known as very hard workers. They always appear to be busy, moving around their homes, or hives. So you might say you were as busy as a bee if you spent your weekend cleaning your house. In fact, you might say your house was a
beehive of activity if your whole family was helping you clean. You also might say you made a beeline for something if you went there right away. When we go to see a movie, my friend always makes a beeline for the place where they sell popcorn. Here is an expression about bees that is not used much any more, but we like it anyway. We think it was first used in the nineteen twenties. If something was the best of its kind, you might say it was the bee's knees. Now, we admit that we do not know how this expression developed. If fact, we do not even know if bees have knees! If your friend cannot stop talking about something because she thinks it is important, you might say she has a bee in her bonnet. If someone asks you a personal question, you might say "that is none of your beeswax." This means none of your business. Speaking of personal questions, there is an expression people sometimes use when their children ask, "where do babies come from?" Parents who discuss sex and reproduction say this is talking about the birds and the bees. Hornets are bee-like insects that sometimes attack people. If you are really angry, you might say you are mad as a hornet. And if you stir up a hornet's nest, you create trouble or problems. Butterflies are beautiful insects, but you would not want to have butterflies in your stomach. That means to be nervous about having to do something, like speaking in front of a crowd. You would also not want to have ants in your pants. That is, to be restless and unable to sit still. Here are some expressions about plain old bugs, another word for insects. If a friend keeps asking you to do something you do not want to do, you might ask him to leave you alone or "stop bugging me." A friend also might tell you again and again to do something. If so, you might say he put a bug in your ear. If you were reading a book in your warm bed on a cold winter's day, you might say you were snug as a bug in a rug. And, if you wish someone good night, you might say, "sleep tight -- don't let the bed bugs bite." Note: as busy as a bee 忙得团团转 She is as busy as a bee in the morning. 早上她总是忙得团团转。 People are sometimes as busy as bees. 人们有时也像蜜蜂一样忙碌。 a bee in her bonnet 与众不同的想法；奇怪或疯狂的点子 My classmate Jack always has a bee in his bonnet about how to learn math. 我的同学杰克在学数学方面总有一些稀奇古怪的点子。
the birds and the bees
Did your parents tell you about the birds and bees when you were a child? 在你童年时，你父母跟你谈过性关系的事吗？ put a bug in your ear 事先给人警告 Don’t punish anyone before you put a bug in his ear. stir up a hornet’s nest 捅马蜂窝，招惹大麻烦 When you tell him that he may be wrong ,it really stir up a hornet’s nest . Exercise: How many kinds of insects are referred in the passage? Please translate the following expressions after reading the text . make a beeline _____________ mad as a hornet ______________ a beehive of activity ____________ Can you find another English phrase which has the same meaning as “ none of your beeswax ”? ______________________
2. To Touch All Bases: Baseball Rules
American English is full of colorful expressions. One such expression is, to touch all bases. It comes from the sport of baseball. There are four bases in baseball -- first, second and third. The fourth is home plate. Together, the bases form a diamond shape. When a baseball player hits the ball, he must run to each base -- in order -and touch it with his foot. It is the only way to score a point. If the player hits the ball and fails to touch all the bases, the point will not be counted. The importance of touching all the bases was shown at the start of the nineteen seventy-four baseball season. Hank Aaron was a player with the Atlanta Braves team. He was seeking the record for hitting the most home runs. A home run is a ball that is hit over the wall. Aaron needed just one home run to equal the record held by Babe Ruth, the greatest hitter in baseball history. Aaron got that home run the very first time he had a chance to hit the ball. He sent the ball over the wall that surrounded the playing field. That gave him seven hundred and fourteen home runs -- the same as Babe Ruth. After that day, baseball fans held their breath every time it was Hank Aaron's turn to hit. When would he hit home run number seven hundred and fifteen? The wait was not long. In the second week of the season, Aaron again hit the ball over the wall. He had beaten Babe Ruth's record. But first, he had to run around the four bases. The other players on his team watched carefully to make sure he touched each one. If he did not, the home run would not have counted. There would have been no new record. So, to touch all bases means to do what is necessary to complete an activity. The expression is used in business and politics. No business deal or political campaign is really complete until you discuss all the issues involved. Or, as it is said, until you touch all bases.
Even professional diplomats use this expression, as well as others that come from baseball. A diplomat in reporting on negotiations with diplomats from different countries may say they "touched all bases" during many hours of talks. This means they explored all issues involved in the situation. Perhaps they did this after expressing hope that they could play ball with each other, meaning that they could learn to cooperate. Sports reporters write about fast-moving, lively events. They must develop a way of writing that goes straight to the point. Their duty is to give the reader a complete picture of the event in as few words as possible. They must touch all bases as quickly as they can. Note: home run 本垒打 How does the batter score a home run? 击球员击出什么样的球才叫本垒打？ play ball (与某人)合作 (与某人)同流合污 I won’t play ball with a selfish man as you. Exercise: How does the batter score a home run? Please make as many sentences as possible with the following expressions. home round play ball to touch all bases Can you name some great baseball players after reading the passage ? Why do you think they are great ?
3.Stock Market: The Business of Investing Bells sound. Lighted messages appear. Men and women work at computers. They talk on the telephone. At times they shout and run
around. This noisy place is a stock exchange. Here expert salespeople called brokers buy and sell shares of companies. The shares are known as stocks. People who own stock in a company, own part of that company. People pay brokers to buy and sell stocks for them. If a company earns money, its stock increases in value. If the company does not earn money, the stock decreases in value. Brokers and investors carefully watch for any changes on the Big Board. That is the name given to a list of stocks sold on the New York Stock Exchange. The first written use of the word with that meaning was in a newspaper in Illinois in eighteen thirty-seven. It said: "The sales on the board were one thousand seven hundred dollars in American gold." Investors and brokers watch the Big Board to see if the stock market is a bull market or a bear market. In a bear market, prices go down. In a bull market, prices go up. Investors in a bear market promise to sell a stock in the future at a set price. But the investor does not own the stock yet. He or she waits to buy it when the price drops. The meaning of a bear market is thought to come from an old story about a man who sold the skin of a bear before he caught the bear. An English dictionary of the sixteen hundreds said, "To sell a bear is to sell what one has not." Word experts dispute the beginnings of the word bull in the stock market. But some say it came from the long connection of the two animals -- bulls and bears -- in sports that were popular years ago in England. Investors are always concerned about the possibility of a company failing. In the modern world, a company that does not earn enough profit is said to go belly up. A company that goes belly up dies like a fish. Fish turn over on their backs when they die. So they are stomach, or belly, up. Stock market investors do not want that to happen to a company. They want a company whose stock they own to earn more profit than expected. This would sharply increase the value of the stock. Investors are hoping for a windfall. The word windfall comes from England of centuries ago. There, poor people were banned from cutting trees in forests owned by rich land owners. But, if the wind blew down a tree, a poor person could take the wood for fuel. So a windfall is something wonderful that happens unexpectedly. Note: stock exchange 证券交易所 He gambles on the stock exchange. 他从事股票投机。
bull market 牛市 bear market 熊市 belly up （公司）破产，完蛋 His company finally belly up for the financial crisis. Exercise: ①Translate those expressions mentioned in the text. shares stocks brokers windfall ②Can you find the characteristics of bull market and bear market in our text?
4.Hands: She is Making Money Hand-Over-Fist Marilyn Rice Christiano The hand has been a symbol through the ages and in many cultures.
There are hundreds of expressions and combinations of words using hand in the English language. Let us examine some of the expressions that use hand. We will get a hand in this way. To get a hand in is to begin a job, to begin to know something about it. When we learn the job completely, it will be easy for us. We will be able to do it hands down. If we do the job well, we may end up with the upper hand. And that means to be in control, or to have gained complete understanding of a situation. On the other hand, if the situation gets out of hand, then it is out of control. We must act quickly to regain the upper hand over these expressions. But, wait. We still do not have the upper hand in this business. We must consider another way of expressing praise, to hand it to someone. For example: I must hand it to you for understanding what we have discussed this far. You can also lend a hand to someone, but without really giving up your hand. You lend a hand when you help someone. You offer them a helping hand. If someone is kind enough to lend us a hand, then we surely do not want to bite the hand that feeds us. We do not want to repay his kindness by treating him badly. Now, with that out of the way, we have a free hand to continue examining other hand expressions. To have a free hand in a situation is good. It means you are free to act without getting permission from someone else. If we continue moving along, we will make progress hand over fist, or very rapidly. This expression began in the early seventeen hundreds. It reportedly comes from a sailing expression hand over hand, the way of quickly raising or lowering a sail. Maybe you can find a friend who wants to take a hand in our project. It would have to be someone who is interested in these expressions. Your friend may want to work hand in glove with us. That is good, because that means he wants to work as closely with us as a glove covers the hand. Of course there is a danger that he may look at our project and decide to take it in hand. That means he wants to take it over. If that happens, we may throw up our hands because the situation seems hopeless. In fact, we may decide that it is time for us to end this project, to wash our hands of hand expressions. Note: Hand Over Fist 迅速大量地 A snowstorm is coming up hand over fist. 暴风雪骤然而至。
My son is very bright. He is making progress hand over fist. 我儿子很聪明，他进步很快。 During the World War the firm made money hand over fist. 世界大战期间，这家公司赚了许多钱。 throw up one’s hands 从正在做的某事中退出；放弃某事 Now that Jim takes over the project. It is time for us to throw up one’s hands. Exercise: ① Compared with those expressions with “hand”, can you list some expressions with “foot”? ② Using the following expressions to make some sentences. bite the hand that feeds sb take a hand hand in glove take it in hand Can you find a proper Chinese translation for “ bite the hand that feeds sb ” ?
5.Colors: I'm Feeling Very Blue Today
Every people has its own way of saying things, its own special expressions. Many everyday American expressions are based on colors. Red is a hot color. Americans often use it to express heat. They may say they are red hot about something unfair. When they are red hot they are very angry about something. The small hot tasting peppers found in many Mexican foods are called red hots for their color and their fiery taste. Fast loud music is popular with many people. They may say the music is red hot, especially the kind called Dixieland jazz. Pink is a lighter kind of red. People sometimes say they are in the pink when they are in good health. The expression was first used in America at the beginning of the twentieth century. It probably comes from the fact that many babies are born with a nice pink color that shows that they are in good health. Blue is a cool color. The traditional blues music in the United States is the opposite of red hot music. Blues is slow, sad and soulful. Duke Ellington and his orchestra recorded a famous song – Mood Indigo – about the deep blue color, indigo. In the words of the song: “You ain’t been blue till you’ve had that Mood Indigo.” Someone who is blue is very sad. The color green is natural for trees and grass. But it is an unnatural color for humans. A person who has a sick feeling stomach may say she feels a little green. A passenger on a boat who is feeling very sick from high waves may look very green. Sometimes a person may be upset because he does not have something as nice as a friend has, like a fast new car. That person may say he is green with envy. Some people are green with envy because a friend has more dollars or greenbacks. Dollars are called greenbacks because that is the color of the back side of the paper money. The color black is used often in expressions. People describe a day in which everything goes wrong as a black day. The date of a major tragedy is remembered as a black day. A blacklist is illegal now. But at one time, some businesses refused to employ people who were on a blacklist for belonging to unpopular organizations. In some cases, colors describe a situation. A brown out is an expression for a reduction in electric power. Brown outs happen when there is too much demand for electricity. The electric system is unable to offer all the power needed in an area. Black outs were common during World War Two. Officials would order all lights in a city turned off to make it difficult for enemy planes to find a target in the dark of night.
Note: be based on 根据， 以 …… 为基础 in good health 健康状况良好 Exercises: Please find what Americans use red color to express in the text . Do you think it has the same meaning as that we use in Chinese ? Which color will we choose to express someone is in good health ? A. red B. pink C. blue D. green What is the opposite of red hot music ? ____________ 6.Chickenfeed: It Doesn’ t Add Up to Much
Almost every language in the world has a saying that a person can never be too rich. Americans, like people in other countries, always want more money. One way they express this is by protesting that their jobs do not pay enough. A common expression is, "I am working for chickenfeed." It means working for very little money. The expression probably began because seeds fed to chickens made people think of small change. Small change means metal coins of not much value, like nickels which are worth five cents. An early use of the word chickenfeed appeared in an American publication in nineteen thirty. It told about a rich man and his son. Word expert Mitford Mathews says it read, "I’ll bet neither the kid nor his father ever saw a nickel or a dime. They would not have been interested in such chickenfeed." Chickenfeed also has another interesting meaning known to history experts and World War Two spies and soldiers. Spy expert Henry S. A. Becket writes that some German spies working in London during the war also worked for the British. The British government had to make the Germans believe their spies were working. So, British officials gave them mostly false information. It was called chickenfeed. The same person who protests that he is working for chickenfeed may also say, "I am working for peanuts." She means she is working for a small amount of money. It is a very different meaning from the main one in the dictionary. That meaning is small nuts that grow on a plant. No one knows for sure how a word for something to eat also came to mean something very small. But, a peanut is a very small food. The expression is an old one. Word expert Mitford Mathews says that as early as eighteen fifty-four, an American publication used the words peanut agitators. That meant political troublemakers who did not have a lot of support. Another reason for the saying about working for peanuts may be linked to elephants. Think of how elephants are paid for their work in the circus. They receive food, not money. One of the foods they like best is peanuts. When you add the word gallery to the word peanut you have the name of an area in an American theater. A gallery is a high seating area or balcony above the main floor. The peanut gallery got its name because it is the part of the theater most distant from where the show takes place. So, peanut gallery tickets usually cost less than other tickets. People pay a small amount of money for them. Note: A person can never be too rich. another interesting meaning known to history experts… peanut agitators
Exercise: I am working for chickenfeed/____________ What’s the meaning of the sentence above ? Where does “ working for peanuts ” originate ? What’s the peanut gallery ?
7.Nuts and Bolts: The Mechanics of Any Organization
Every machine is held together by its nuts and bolts. Without them, the machine would fall apart. That is also true of an organization. Its nuts and bolts are its basic, necessary elements. They are the parts that make the organization work. In government, industry and diplomacy -- in most anything -- those who understand the nuts and bolts are the most important. Success depends more on them than on almost anyone else. In government, the president or prime minister may plan and shape programs and policies. But, it takes much more work to get them approved and to make them successful. There is a mass of detailed work to be done. The nuts and bolts. This is often put into the hands of specialists. The top leaders are always well-known, but not those who work with the nuts and bolts. This is equally true in the day-to-day operation of Congress. The majority leader of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, together with the chairmen of committees, keep the businesses of Congress moving. Behind every Senator and Congressman, however, are assistants. These people do all the detailed work to prepare congressmen to vote wisely on each issue. In diplomacy, the chief ministers are unquestionably important in negotiations. But there are lesser officials who do the basic work and preparations on the different issues to be negotiated. In a military operation, strategy decisions are important. But much more time is spent on the nuts and bolts -- generally called logistics -- of how to transport and supply an army. It has been said that Napoleon was successful because he knew the field position of every one of his guns. He gave careful attention to the nuts and bolts of his operations. The extreme importance of nuts and bolts was expressed by the Elizabethan poet, George Herbert. He wrote: For want of a nail, the shoe is lost For want of a shoe, the horse is lost For want of a horse, the rider is lost. Benjamin Franklin carried these lines even further. He wrote: For want of a rider, the battle was lost For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. Note: Without them, the machine would fall apart. keep the businesses of Congress moving. It takes much more work to get them approved and to make them successful. Exercises: Please translate the poem mentioned in the passage . Who among below understand the nuts and bolts ?
A. the president C. the specialists
B. the Prime Minister D. the senator
8.Hot: He Was a Hotheaded Hot Shot
Every language has its own special words and expressions. And a story can be told about each of them. Hot is a simple, easily-understood word. So are most of the expressions made with the word hot. But not always, as we shall see. The words hot potato, for example, give you no idea at all to the meaning of the expression, hot potato. The potato is a popular vegetable in the United States. Many people like baked potatoes, cooked in an oven or fire. Imagine trying to carry a hot, baked potato in your hand. It would be difficult, even painful, to do so. Now we are getting close to the meaning of hot potato. Some publicly-disputed issues are highly emotional. The issues must be treated carefully, or they will be difficult and painful if an elected official has to deal with them. As difficult and painful as holding a hot potato. One such hot potato is taxes. Calling for higher taxes can mean defeat for a politician. And yet, if taxes are not raised, some very popular government programs could be cut. And that also can make a politician very unpopular. So the questions must be dealt with carefully...the same way you would handle any other hot potato. Another expression is not so hot. If you ask someone how she feels, she may answer: "not so hot." What she means is she does not feel well. Not so hot also is a way of saying that you do not really like something. You may tell a friend that the new play you saw last night is not so hot. That means you did not consider it a success. A hot shot is a person -- often a young person -- who thinks he can do anything. At least he wants to try. He is very sure he can succeed. But often he fails. The expression was born in the military forces. A hot shot was a soldier who fired without aiming carefully. Hot is a word that is often used to talk about anger. A person who becomes angry easily is called a hothead. An angry person's neck often becomes red. We say he is hot under the collar. You could say that your friend is no hothead. But he got hot under the collar when someone took his radio. In nineteen sixty-three, hot line appeared as a new expression. The hot line was a direct communications link between the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States. The hot line had an important purpose: to prevent accidental war between the two competitors during the period known as the Cold War. The American president and the Soviet leader were able to communicate directly and immediately on the hot line. This helped prevent any conflict during an international crisis. Exercises: Can you translate “ hot potato ” into Chinese ?
Can you list some example of “ hot potato ” in your daily life and explain why they are ? Please make as many sentences as you can with the following expressions: not so hot hot shot hot under the collar
9.Blizzard: Don't Let This Expression Snow You
Some popular American expressions come from areas of the United States where people experience problems of living in cold winter weather. Winters in the northern United States are always cold and snowy. Sometimes, heavy snow is brought by violent storms with high winds and extremely low temperatures. Americans call these storms, blizzards. Blizzards are usually described as blinding, because no one can see through the blowing snow. Until about one hundred twenty years ago, the word blizzard had nothing to do with snow. It had several other meanings. One was a sharp blow, like hitting a ball with a stick. Another meaning was a gun shot. A third was any sort of statement or event that was the most extreme of its kind. An especially violent and heavy snowstorm struck the state of Iowa in eighteen seventy. The newspaper editor in one small town called the terrible storm a blizzard, because it was the worst winter storm in a long time. This use of the word spread across the country in the next few years. Soon, any especially bad winter storm was called a blizzard. Although no one likes a blizzard, many people love snow. It changes the appearance of everything around us. When snow is falling, the world seems somehow soft, peaceful and quiet. Snow, especially in large amounts, covers everything. But too much snow is a real problem. Heavy, deep snow is difficult to move. Clearing snow from roads and sidewalks is hard work. Someone who is snowed under has a lot of snow to clear. That expression, snowed under, also has another meaning. Anyone who has too much work to do is snowed under. You might explain to a friend that you cannot see her tonight, because you are snowed under with work. It also is possible to snow someone under with words. The idea is to change someone's mind by making a great many pleasant, but false, statements or claims. That is a snow job. A boy may use a snow job, for example, to try to get a girl to go out with him. The pretty words of his snow job are like the snow flakes that cover the real world around us. However, snow jobs, unlike blizzards, are easily seen through. We hope you have enjoyed our attempts to explain some popular American winter expressions. And that wish is no snow job. Exercises: What does the title “Don't Let This Expression Snow You ” mean ? Can you find some other meanings of “ blizzards ” in the text ? 10.From Couch Potato to Cabin Fever
Some unusual words describe how a person spends his or her time. For example, someone who likes to spend a lot of time sitting or lying down while watching television is sometimes called a couch potato. A couch is a piece of furniture that people sit on while watching television. Robert Armstrong, an artist from California, developed the term couch potato in nineteen seventy-six. Several years later, he listed the term as a trademark with the United States government. Mister Armstrong also helped write a funny book about life as a full-time television watcher. It is called the "Official Couch Potato Handbook." Couch potatoes enjoy watching television just as mouse potatoes enjoy working on computers. A computer mouse is the device that moves the pointer, or cursor, on a computer screen. The description of mouse potato became popular in nineteen ninety-three. American writer Alice Kahn is said to have invented the term to describe young people who spend a lot of time using computers. Too much time inside the house using a computer or watching television can cause someone to get cabin fever. A cabin is a simple house usually built far away from the city. People go to a cabin to relax and enjoy quiet time. Cabin fever is not really a disease. However, people can experience boredom and restlessness if they spend too much time inside their homes. This is especially true during the winter when it is too cold or snowy to do things outside. Often children get cabin fever if they cannot go outside to play. So do their parents. This happens when there is so much snow that schools and even offices and stores are closed. Some people enjoy spending a lot of time in their homes to make them nice places to live. This is called nesting or cocooning. Birds build nests out of sticks to hold their eggs and baby birds. Some insects build cocoons around themselves for protection while they grow and change. Nests and cocoons provide security for wildlife. So people like the idea of nests and cocoons, too. The terms cocooning and nesting became popular more than twenty years ago. They describe people buying their first homes and filling them with many things. These people then had children. Now these children are grown and have left the nest. They are in college. Or they are married and starting families of their own far away. Now these parents are living alone without children in their empty nest. They have become empty nesters. Exercises: What kind of person is called a couch potato ? What is a mouse potato ? What are empty nesters ? A. teachers with students leaving schhol B. parents without children at home
C. bosses with employees leaving the company D. birds with nests empty
11.Hit: If a Student's Grades Hit Bottom, It Is Time to Hit the Books Hit is a small word but it has a lot of power. Baseball players hit the ball. Missiles hit an airplane. A car hits a tree. Hit also joins with other words to create many colorful expressions. One is hit the road. It means to travel or to leave a place, as suggested in this song, "Hit the Road." Another common expression is hit the spot. At first it meant hitting a spot at the center of a target with an arrow. Someone who did so was satisfied with his shooting. Now, hitting the spot usually means that a food or drink is especially satisfying. Many years ago, Pepsi Cola sold its drink with a song that began, "Pepsi Cola hits the spot, twelve full ounces, that's a lot? Another expression involving hit is hit bottom. Something that has hit bottom can go no lower. If the price of shares of a stock hits bottom that might be the time to buy it. Its value can only go up. A student who tells you his grades have hit bottom is saying he has not done well in school. When a student's grades hit bottom it is time to hit the books. Hit the books is another way to saying it is time to study. A student might have to tell her friends she can not go with them to the movies because she has to hit the books. Not hitting the books could lead to an unpleasant situation for a student. The father or mother may hit the ceiling when they see the low grades. Someone who hits the ceiling, the top of the room, is violently angry. A wife may hit the ceiling because her husband forgot their wedding anniversary. To build something of wood, you usually need a hammer. That is what you use to hit nails into the pieces of wood to hold them together. When you hit the nail on the head, exactly on its top, it goes into the wood perfectly. And when someone says your words or actions hit the nail on the head, he means what you said or did was exactly right. If you are tired after hitting all those nails on the head, then it is time to hit the hay. That expression comes from the days when people slept on beds filled with dried grass or hay. Some people slept on hay in barns where they kept their farm animals. Hitting the hay simply means going to bed. That is a good idea. I think I will hit the hay now. Notes： 1．shares of a stock 股票的股份 2．Situation 1.形势; 情况 The situation will soon come clear. 情况不久就会明朗的。 The economic situation has changed considerably.
经济形势已发生了相当大的变化。 2.〈正〉职业, 职位, 工作 In August he was appointed to the situation of secretary. 在八月份, 他被指定担任秘书。 3.位置, 环境 The house has a fine situation. 这房子占了个好位置。 These houses seem to blend well with the trees and the situation. 这些房屋与树木和周围的环境十分协调。 Exercises: Please translate the title ( pay attention to the different meaning of “ hit ” ) . Which of the following expressions with “ hit ” means food or drink is delicious ? A. hit the road B. hit the spot C. hit the ceiling D. hit the hay Which phrase has the same meaning as “ hit the nail on the head ”? A. off the point B. to the point C. at the point D. around the point
12．Words and Their Stories: America's Fifty States, What's In a Nickname? A nickname is a shortened form of a person's name. A nickname can also be a descriptive name for a person, place or thing. America's fifty states have some of the most historically interesting nicknames. Alabama is known as the "Heart of Dixie" because it is in the very middle of a group of states in the Deep South. "Dixie" itself is a nickname for the American South. It started when Louisiana printed notes with the French word for "ten" on them. "Deece," or "D-I-X," led to "Dixie." Way up north, Alaska is called the "Last Frontier" for understandable reasons. Near the Arctic Circle, it was the final part of the nation to be explored and settled. Arizona is "The Grand Canyon State" because of the famous winding canyon carved by the Colorado River. The southern state of Arkansas is the "Land of Opportunity." The state legislature chose this nickname. Arkansas is rich in natural resources and has become a favorite place for older people to retire. In a popular Spanish book, a fictional island called "California" was filled with gold. Sure enough, plenty of it was discovered in the real California, in eighteen forty-eight. This started a gold rush unlike any other in American history in the "Golden State." You would think Colorado would be known as the Rocky Mountain State. But its nickname is the "Centennial State." That is because it became a state in eighteen seventy-six, exactly one hundred years after the nation declared its independence. Connecticut is called "The Nutmeg State" after a spice. Connecticut Yankees, as people in this northeast state are called, are known to be smart in business. So smart that it was said they could sell wooden, meaning false, nutmegs to strangers. Little Delaware is called "The First State" because it was the first state -- the first to approve the new United States Constitution. The Southern state of Florida likes to tell about its sunny days and fine beaches. So Florida is "The Sunshine State." Florida's neighbor to the north grows some of the sweetest fruit in America. So Georgia is "The Peach State." Hawaii, far out in the Pacific Ocean, is the "Aloha State." That is the friendly greeting that means both "hello" and "goodbye" in the native Hawaiian language. So, aloha for now. Next week we will tell you about the nicknames of more American states. Notes： Map of the USA
Alaska 美国阿拉斯加州 Arizona 亚利桑那州(美国西南部的州) Arkansas 阿肯色州(美国中南部的州 Colorado 美国科罗拉多州(位于美国西部) Connecticut 康涅狄格州 Yankees, Delaware (美国东部的)特拉华(州) Florida 弗罗里达州 Hawaii 美国夏威夷州 Exercises: What is a nickname ? Why is Alabama known as the "Heart of Dixie"? What does it mean by “ Dixie"? Which of the following states hae the nickname as "The Grand Canyon State"? A. Alaska B. Hawaii C. Arizona D. Delaware
13. Nicknames: Americas 50 States (Second of Four Parts) As we told you last week, every American state has a nickname. Here are some more of them. Idaho is known as The Gem State. This is not because it has diamonds but because it believes it is the jewel of the western Rocky Mountains. Illinois is The Land of Lincoln. It is named for Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president who led the nation through the Civil War in the eighteen sixties. The midwestern state of Indiana is called the Hoosier State, but nobody is quite sure why. One story is that the word was used to mean poor farmers or uneducated people. No wonder the state legislature instead calls Indiana The Crossroads of America. Iowa's nickname, the Hawkeye State, is in honor of Black Hawk, an Indian chief who spent most of his life in neighboring Illinois! Kansas also has a "hawkish" nickname: The Jayhawk State. Jayhawkers were free-state guerrilla fighters opposed to the pro-slavery fighters in the years before the Civil War. Kentucky is The Bluegrass State. Bluegrass is really bright green but looks bluish from a distance. Louisiana is The Bayou State. A bayou is a slow-moving stream. Hundreds of them flow through this southern state, and many are full of alligators! Maine, in the nation's northeast, is The Pine Tree State because it is covered in evergreen woods. And directly across the country, on the Pacific Coast, is the state of Washington. It also has lots of evergreen trees so, not surprisingly, it is The Evergreen State. The eastern state of Massachusetts is the Bay State. This body of water separates most of the state from famous Cape Cod. Six state nicknames are taken from native animals. Michigan is the Wolverine State. A wolverine is a small, fierce mammal. The badger is a similar and equally fierce creature and Wisconsin is The Badger State. Neighboring Minnesota, The Gopher State, is named for a much nicer animal that builds hills and tunnels. However, The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes is written on Minnesota's vehicle license plates. North Dakota gets its nickname, The Flickertail State not from some bird, but from a little squirrel. South Dakota takes its nickname, The Coyote State, from an animal that thinks flickertails are good to eat! And Oregon, The Beaver State, borrows its nickname from the large, flat-tailed rodent that uses trees to build dams. Notes： Idaho n.爱达荷州(美国州名) Illinois n.伊利诺斯州(美国州名)
Indiana 印地安那州 Iowa 爱荷华州(美国中西部的一州) Kansas 美国堪萨斯州 Kentucky .肯塔基州(美国) Louisiana 路易斯安那,(美国南部的州名) Maine 缅因州(美国东北角的州) Massachusetts 马萨诸塞州 Michigan 密歇根州 Minnesota 明尼苏达州 South Dakota 达科他(美国过去一地区名,现分为南、北达科他州) Oregon 俄勒冈州 Exercises: Please write out the nicknames of the following American states. Indiana __________________ Kentucky_________________ Louisiana _________________ Massachusetts _____________ Why is Idaho nicknamed as The Gem State ? Where does the nickname of Maine The Pine Tree State come from ?
14. Nicknames: Americas 50 States (Third of Four Parts) Today, we tell about more interesting nicknames of American states. The mid-Atlantic state of Maryland is called the Free State. A Baltimore newspaper first called it that during the nineteen twenties when the manufacture and sale of alcohol were banned for a time. Maryland said it wanted to be free from this prohibition. Mississippi is The Magnolia State. It is named for a tree with big, beautiful white flowers that grows in that hot, southern state. The Midwestern state of Missouri is called The Show Me State. The people of that frontier state were once famous for not believing everything people told them. If you visit the western mountain and plains state of Montana you will know why it is known as Big Sky Country. Nebraska is the only state to have a nickname that honors sports teams! The state university's athletic teams are nicknamed Cornhuskers in recognition of one of the area's chief crops. The state borrowed the Cornhusker nickname from the university. The western desert state of Nevada is called The Silver State. It was once home to many silver mines and towns that grew up around them. Today, most of them are empty "ghost towns." New Hampshire, in the northeast area called New England, is The Granite State because of that colorful rock. New Jersey is between the big cities of New York, New York and Philadelphia, Pennyslvania. It got its nickname, The Garden State, because New Jersey truck farms once provided vegetables to those big cities. New York, which always thinks big, was called The Empire State because of its natural wealth. The most famous Manhattan skyscraper got its name from the state. It is, of course, the Empire State Building. If you get a chance to see a red sunset over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, you will know why that southwestern state is called The Land of Enchantment. North and South Carolina were one colony until seventeen twenty-nine. South Carolina's nickname is the easier of the two: It is The Palmetto State because of a fan-leafed palm tree that grows there. North Carolina is the Tar Heel State. That is because many of the men who worked to gather substances from trees wore no shoes. They would make turpentine from tar and get the black, sticky tar on the heels of their feet. Next week, we will finish telling about the colorful nicknames of American states. Notes： 1．frontier （1）边界, 边境，国界 There have been large-scale military manoeuvres on the frontier.
边境地区曾有过大规模的军事演习。 （2）.（尤指 19 世纪美国西部的）开发地区的边缘, 边远地区 Areas near the frontier were rough and lawless in the old days. 过去边远地区混乱不堪, 而且没有法律。 （3）尚待开发的领域, 尖端; 前沿 They are highly interested in the frontiers of science. 他们对于科学的新领域有浓厚的兴趣。 2．Enchantment. enchant 使心醉 enchantment 迷惑 Exercises : Why do you know The Midwestern state of Missouri is nicknamed as The Show Me State ? Is it funny ? Why is Mississippi called The Magnolia State ? What could you have seen in the sate of Nevada ? A. gold mines B. silver mines C. steel mines D. iron mines Where do you think New York got its name The Empire State ?
15.Nicknames: Americas 50 States (Fourth of Four Parts) Today, we finish telling about the interesting nicknames that have been given to the fifty American states. The state of Ohio is in the midwest.?It is named The Buckeye State after a tree that produces nuts similar to chestnuts. The Great Plains state of Oklahoma is called the Sooner State. That is because of a sale of land in eighteen eighty-nine. Some people arrived in the territory to claim their land earlier than they were supposed to.?They cheated and got there "sooner." Pennsylvania's nickname is The Keystone State.?Just as a keystone holds together a stone arch, Pennsylvania was seen as holding together the young American republic. Pennsylvania is also sometimes called The Quaker State. Its founder, William Penn, and most of his followers, were members of the Protestant Quaker religion.? Rhode Island's nickname is Little Rhody because of its size.?The state is smaller than the area around Los Angeles, California. Tennessee got its nickname -- The Volunteer State -- because of the bravery of its citizens.?They volunteered to join Tennessean Andrew Jackson to defend the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, against the British army in the War of Eighteen Twelve. Texas is called The Lone Star State.?It gets its nickname from the single star on its flag.?This represents the short time Texas was an independent nation battling Mexico for self-rule.? The Beehive State of Utah has no more beehives than any other state.?The nickname is from the Mormon Church's symbol for hard work.? The eastern state of Vermont is proud of its beautiful Green Mountains so it calls itself The Green Mountain State.?The southern state of Virginia is called The Old Dominion.? Long ago, King Charles the Second of England added the colony's coat of arms to his shield.?It joined his other dominions of England, Ireland, and Scotland. West Virginia broke away from Virginia in the eighteen sixties. It is called simply The Mountain State for the ancient Appalachian mountains. And we have saved perhaps the most American nickname for last.?The western state of Wyoming was once an area where cattle were transported east.?And where there are cattle, there are men -and now women -- to move them.?So Wyoming is The Cowboy State. Notes： 1．the Protestant Quaker religion：基督教贵格会宗教。 2．dominions
（1）.统治权 Alexander held dominion over a vast area. 亚历山大曾统治过辽阔的地域。 （2.）领土, 疆土, 版图 Our country's dominion is very vast. 我国疆域辽阔。 Exercises: Find the reasons why the states below got their names ? The Buckeye State ________________________ the Sooner State ________________________ The Quaker State ________________________ The Volunteer State ________________________ Which state is nicknamed as the Keystone State ? A. Pennsylvania B. Rhode Island C. Texas D. Utah
16.White Christmas: One of the Best Loved Holiday Songs Music fills the air. Colorful lights shine brightly in windows. Children and adults open gifts from loved ones and friends. These are all Christmas traditions. Another tradition is snow. Christmas in the northern part of the world comes a few days after the start of winter. In many places, a blanket of clean white snow covers the ground on Christmas Day. This is what is meant by a "White Christmas." Of course, many places do not get snow at Christmas. In fact, they may be very warm this time of year. People who like snow, but live where it is warm, can only dream of having a white Christmas. American songwriter Irving Berlin captured these feelings in his song, "White Christmas." It is one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. The opening words explain why the singer is dreaming of a white Christmas. Most people never hear these words so they never really understand the true meaning of the song. Here's how it starts: The sun is shining. The grass is green. The orange and palm trees sway. I've never seen such a day in Beverly Hills, L.A. But it's December the twenty-fourth And I'm longing to be up north. Up north, where it is cold and snowy. Not south, where it is warm and sunny. Over the years, hundreds of singers and musicians have recorded "White Christmas." But the version most people still know best was sung by Bing Crosby. Songwriter Irving Berlin was born in Russia in eighteen eighty-eight. He did not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. He was Jewish. But his song celebrates an idea of peace and happiness that anyone, anywhere -- snowy or not -- can enjoy.
17. Money, Money, Money: Dinner Is on the House Most people enjoy working for several reasons. Their job might be fun, or they like their employer and the other people at work. Most people I know, however, work for the money. I do not know anyone who is loaded, or extremely rich. Most of my friends work to earn enough money to live. They have to make ends meet. They have to earn enough money to pay for the things they need. Some even live from hand to mouth. They only have enough money for the most important things. They struggle to earn enough money to bring home the bacon. It can be difficult to earn enough money for a family to survive. Sometimes, poor people even get caught short. They do not have enough money to pay for what they need. Or they have to spend or lay out more money than they want for something. When this happens, poor people have to tighten their belts and live on less money than usual. I hate when I have to live on less money. It takes me longer to get back on my feet, or return to good financial health. However, other people are on the gravy train. They get paid more money than their job is worth. These people make a bundle. They really rake in the cash. In fact, they make so much money that they can live high off the hog. They own the best of everything and live in great ease. Sometimes they pay an arm and a leg for something. Because money is no object to wealthy people, they will pay high prices for whatever they want. Sometimes, they even pay through the nose. They pay too much for things. I am not rich. I did not make a killing in the stock market when my stocks increased in value. Yet, I am not poor either. When I go out with friends, I do not want to shell out or pay a lot of money. Often, my friends and I will chip in or pay jointly for a fun night out. When we go to restaurants the meal is Dutch treat. Each person pays his or her own share. Once, the owner of a restaurant gave us a dinner on the house. We did not have to pay for our meals. However, I admit that we had to grease someone's palm. We had to pay money to the employee who led us to our table. The money was for a special request. Yes, it was a buy off. The employee put us at the top of the list for a table instead of making us wait like everyone else. We had a great time that night and the meal did not set me back at all. I did not have to pay anything. Because of that experience, I will always remember that nice things still happen in a world that is driven by money. But, that is just my two cents worth. It is just my opinion.
18. More Money: Money Can Make People Do Strange Things Many people believe that money makes the world go around. Others believe that money buys happiness. I do not agree with either idea. But I do admit that money can make people do strange things. Let me tell you about a person I once knew who liked to play card games for money. He liked to gamble. My friend Bob had a problem because he liked to gamble at all costs. He would play at any time and at any price. To take part in a card game such as poker, my friend would have to ante up. He would have to pay a small amount of money at the beginning of the game. Bob always played with cold, hard cash --onlycoins and dollar bills. Sometimes my friend would clean up. He would win a lot of money on one card game. He liked to tell me that one day he would break the bank. What a feeling it must be to win all of the money at a gambling table! Other times my friend would simply break even. He neither won nor lost money. But sometimes Bob would lose his shirt. He would lose all the money he had. He took a beating at the gambling table. When this happened, my friend would have to go in the hole. He would go into debt and owe people money. Recently, Bob turned to crime after losing all his money. In his job, he kept the books for a small business. He supervised the records of money earned and spent by the company. Although my friend was usually honest, he decided to cook the books. He illegally changed the financial records of the company. This permitted him to make a fast buck. My friend made some quick, easy money dishonestly. I never thought Bob would have sticky fingers. He did not seem like a thief who would steal money. But, some people will do anything for love of money. Bob used the money he stole from his company to gamble again. This time, he cashed in. He made a lot of money. Quickly he was back on his feet. He had returned to good financial health. His company, however, ended up in the red. It lost more money than it earned. The company was no longer profitable. It did not take long before my friend's dishonesty was discovered. The company investigated and charged him with stealing. Bob tried to pass the buck. He tried to blame someone else for the deficit. His lie did not work, however. He ended up in jail. Today, I would bet my bottom dollar that my friend will never gamble again. I would bet all I have that he learned his lesson about gambling.
19. Money: He Hit the Jackpot I think people everywhere dream about having lots of money. I know I do. I would give anything to make money hand over fist. I would like to earn large amounts of money. You could win a large amount of money in the United States through lotteries. People pay money for tickets with numbers. If your combination of numbers is chosen, you win a huge amount of money – often in the millions. Winning the lottery is a windfall. A few years ago, my friend Al won the lottery. It changed his life. He did not have a rich family. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Instead, my friend was always hard up for cash. He did not have much money. And the money he did earn was chicken feed – very little. Sometimes Al even had to accept hand-outs, gifts from his family and friends. But do not get me wrong. My friend was not a deadbeat. He was not the kind of person who never paid the money he owed. He simply pinched pennies. He was always very careful with the money he spent. In fact, he was often a cheapskate. He did not like to spend money. The worst times were when he was flat broke and had no money at all. One day, Al scraped together a few dollars for a lottery ticket. He thought he would never strike it rich or gain lots of money unexpectedly. But his combination of numbers was chosen and he won the lottery. He hit the jackpot. He won a great deal of money. Al was so excited. The first thing he did was buy a costly new car. He splurged on the one thingthat he normally would not buy. Then he started spending money on unnecessary things. He started to waste it. It was like he had money to burn. He had more money than he needed and it was burning a hole in his pocket so he spent it quickly. When we got together for a meal at a restaurant, Al paid ever time. He would always foot the bill, and pick up the tab. He told me the money made him feel like a million dollars. He was very happy. But, Al spent too much money. Soon my friend was down and out again. He had no money left. He was back to being strapped for cash. He had spent his bottom dollar, his very last amount. He did not even build up a nest egg. He had not saved any of the money. I admit I do feel sorry for my friend. He had enough money to live like a king. Instead, he is back to living on a shoestring -- a very low budget. Some might say he is penny wise and pound foolish. He was wise about small things, but not about important things.
20. Water: She Is In Hot Water Expressions about water are almost as common as water itself. But many of the expressions using water have unpleasant meanings. The expression to be in hot water is one of them. It is a very old expression. Hot water was used five hundred years ago to mean being in trouble. One story says it got that meaning from the custom of throwing boiling water down on enemies attacking a castle. That no longer the custom. But we still get inhot water. When we are in hot water, we are in trouble. It can be any kind of trouble--serious, and not so serious. A person who breaks a law can be in hot water with the police. A boy can be in hot water with his mother, if he comes into the house with dirty, wet shoes. Being in deep water is almost the same as being in hot water. When you are in deep water, you are in difficulty. Imagine a swimmer in water over his head who cannot reach the shore. You are in deep water when you are facing a problem that you do not have the ability to solve. The problem is too deep for you. You can be in deep water, for example, if you invest in stocks without knowing anything about the stock market. To keep your head above water is a colorful expression that means staying out of debt. A company that can keep its head above water can survive economic hard times. Water over the dam is an expression about a past event. It is something that is over and done with. It cannot be changed. The expression comes from the idea that water that has fallen over a dam cannot be brought back again. When a friend is troubled by a mistake he has made, you might tell him to forget about it. You say it is water over the dam. Another common expression, to hold water, is about the strength or weakness of an idea, opinion or argument. It probably comes from the way of testing the condition of a container. If it can hold water, it is strong. The expression is used the same way to describe an idea or argument. If the argument can hold water, it is solid and strong without any holes. If it does not hold water, then it is weak and cannot be proved. Throwing cold water also is an expression that deals with ideas or proposals. It means not to like an idea. For example, you want to buy a new computer, so you can do some of your work at home. But your wife throws cold water on the idea, because a computer costs too much.
21. Losing It: It's Hard When You Lose Control Tom Smith is the best hitter on his company's baseball team. For weeks during the playing season, Tom hit a home run in every game the team played. But then suddenly he stopped hitting home runs. He could not hit the baseball at all. One day he struck out three times in one game. He said, "I am afraid I am losing it." Mary Jones bought a dress in a woman's clothing store. She felt very happy about buying the dress until she got home. Then she remembered she had left her credit card at the store when she used it to pay for the dress. It was the third time that month that Mary had forgotten something important. Mary was angry with herself. She said, "Am I losing it?" Emma Cleveland was teaching a class in mathematics at a college. She began to explain to the students how to solve a very difficult problem. She undersood it very well. But somehow, at that moment, she could not explain it. Emma said, "I must be losing it." Americans seem to have a lot of concern about losing it. At least that is what you would think from hearing them talk. They use the expression when they feel they are losing control. It can mean losing emotional control. Or losing the ability to do something. Or losing mental powers. Word experts differ about how the expression started. Some believe it came from television programs popular in the nineteen eighties. Others believe it began with psychologists and psychiatrists who deal with how people think, feel and act. One psychologist said, "We Americans have many concerns about controlling our lives. Perhaps we worry too much." She continued, "In many situations, to say you are losing it eases the tension. It is healthy. And most people who say they are having a problem are not losing it." People may feel more like they arelosing it when they are "down in the dumps." People who are down in the dumps are sad. They are depressed. Word expert Charles Funk says people have been feeling down in the dumps for more than four-hundred years. Sir Thomas More used the expression in fifteen thirty-four. He wrote, "Our poor family ... has fallen in such dumps." Word experts do not agree what the word dumps means. One expert, John Ayto, says the word dumps probably comes from the Scandanavian countries. The languages of Denmark and Norway both have similar words. The words mean to fall suddenly. Americans borrowed this saying. And, over the years, it has become a popular way of expressing sadness. This WORDS AND THEIR STORIES program was written by Jeri Watson. I'm Susan Clark.
22. Monkey: No Monkey Business Here Monkeys are very similar to us in many ways. Most have ten fingers and ten toes, and brains much like ours. We enjoy watching them because they often act like us. In fact, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution says that monkeys and humans share a common ancestor. Songwriter William Gilbert, in the musical "Princess Ida", wrote: "Darwinian man, though well-behaved, at best is only a monkey shaved." His words -- sung to Sir Arthur Sullivan's music -- make listeners smile. Well, monkeys make us smile, too, because they are creatures full of playful tricks. This is why many monkey expressions are about tricky people or playful acts. One of these expressions is monkeyshines, meaning tricks or foolish acts. The meaning is clear if you have ever watched a group of monkeys playfully chasing each other: pulling tails, stealing food, doing tricks. So, when a teacher says to a group of students: "Stop those monkeyshines right now!" you know that the boys and girls are playing, instead of studying. You might hear that same teacher warn a student not to monkey around with a valuable piece of equipment. You monkey around with something when you do not know what you are doing. You are touching or playing with something you should leave alone. Also, you can monkey around when you feel like doing something, but have no firm idea of what to do. For example, you tell your friend you are going to spend the day monkeying around with your car. You do not have any job or goal in mind. It is just a way to pass the time. Monkey business usually means secret, maybe illegal, activities. A news report may say there is monkey business involved in building the new airport, with some officials getting secret payments from builders. You may make a monkey out of someone when you make that person look foolish. Some people make a monkey out of themselves by acting foolish or silly. If one monkey has fun, imagine how much fun a barrel of monkeys can have. If your friend says he had more fun than a barrel of monkeys at your party, you know that he had a really good time. Monkey suits are common names for clothes or uniforms soldiers wear. In earlier years in many American cities, you would find men playing musical hand organs on the street. Dancing to the music would be the man's small monkey dressed in a tight-fitting, colorful jacket similar to a military uniform. So, people began to call a military uniform a monkey suit.
23. Kick: This Is an Idea Worth Kicking Around From birth to death, the word kick has been given an important part in expressing human experience. The proud and happy mother feels the first signs of life kicking inside her womb. And that same life -many years later -- comes to its end in a widely-used expression, to kick the bucket, meaning to die. The expression to kick the bucket is almost two hundred years old. One belief is that it started when an English stableman committed suicide by hanging himself while standing on a pail, or bucket. He put a rope around his neck and tied it to a beam in the ceiling, and then kicked the bucket away from under him. After a while, to die in any way was called kicking the bucket. Another old expression that comes from England is to kick over the traces, meaning to resist the commands of one's parents, or to oppose or reject authority. Traces were the chains that held a horse or mule to a wagon or plow. Sometimes, an animal rebelled and kicked over the traces. The word kick sometimes is used to describe a complaint or some kind of dissatisfaction. Workers, for example, kick about long hours and low pay. There are times when workers are forced to kick back some of their wages to their employers as part of their job. This kickback is illegal. So is another kind of kickback: a secret payment made by a supplier to an official who buys supplies for a government or company. Kick around is a phrase that is heard often in American English. A person who is kicked around is someone who is treated badly. Usually, he is not really being kicked by somebody's foot. He is just not being treated with the respect that all of us want. A person who has kicked around for most of his life is someone who has spent his life moving from place to place. In this case, kicking around means moving often from one place to another. Kick around has a third meaning when you use it with the word idea. When you kick around an idea, you are giving that idea some thought. There is no physical action when you kick a person upstairs, although the pain can be as strong. You kick a person upstairs by removing him from an important job and giving him a job that sounds more important. . . But really is not. Still another meaning of the word kick is to free oneself of a bad habit, such as smoking cigarettes. Health campaigns urge smokers to kick the habit.
24. Rocket Scientist: You Do Not Have to Be Extremely Intelligent to Understand This "You do not need to be a rocket scientist. . . " Americans hear these words often. People say them in schools, offices and factories. Broadcasters on radio and television use them. This is how you might hear the words used. Workers in an office are afraid to try to use their new computer system. Their employer tells them not to be foolish. "You do not need to be a rocket scientist to learn this," he says. Or, high school students cannot seem to understand something their teacher is explaining. "Come on," she says. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand this." Or, a company that makes soap is trying to sell its product on television. "You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see that our soap cleans better," the company says. These words send a strong message. They say that you do not need to be extremely intelligent to understand something. How did the expression begin? No one seems to know for sure. But an official of the American space agency, NASA, says the expression just grew. It grew, he says, because rocket scientists probably are the most intelligent people around. Not everyone would agree. Some people might be considered more intelligent than rocket scientists. For example, a person who speaks and reads fifteen languages, or a medical doctor who operates on the brain. Still, many people would agree that there is something special about scientists who build rockets. Maybe it has to do with the mystery of space travel. Moving pictures from before World War Two showed a man named Buck Rogers landing on the planet Mars. He was a hero who could defeat any enemy from outer space. The rocket scientist is a different kind of hero. He or she makes space travel possible. Rocket scientists, however, can have problems just like everyone else. A Washington rocket scientist tells about a launch that was postponed many, many times. Finally, everything seemed right. Mechanical failures had been repaired. The weather was good. The scientists had planned that part of the rocket would fall into the ocean after the launch. All ships and boats within many kilometers of the danger area had been warned. But in the last few seconds a small boat entered the area. Once again, the launch was postponed. When the work goes well, most rocket scientists enjoy their jobs. One scientist said, "As a child I loved to build rockets. Now I am grown. I still love to build rockets. And now I get paid for it."
25. Wild Cat: Is It a Fast Car or False Money? Humans have always depended on animals. From the beginning of human history, wild animals provided food, clothing and sometimes medicine. We may not depend as much on wild animals now. But we hear about them every day. Americans use the names of animals in many ways. Many companies use animals to make us want to buy their goods. Automobile companies, for example, love to show fast horses when they are trying to sell their cars. They also name their cars for other fast powerful animals. Automobile manufacturers and gasoline companies especially like to use big cats to sell their products. They like lions, tigers and wildcats. When Americans say wildcat, they usually mean a lynx, an ocelot or a bobcat. All these cats attack quickly and fiercely. So wildcats represent something fast and fierce. What better way is there to sell a car than to say it is as fast as a wildcat. Or, what better way is there to sell gasoline than to say that using it is like putting a tiger in your tank. An early American use of the word wildcat was quite different. It was used to describe members of Congress who declared war on Britain in eighteen twelve. A magazine of that year said the wildcat congressmen went home. It said they were unable to face the responsibility of having involved their country in an unnecessary war. Wildcat also has been used as a name for money. It was used this way in the eighteen hundreds. At that time, some states permitted banks to make their own money. One bank in the state of Michigan offered paper money with a picture of a wildcat on it. Some banks, however, did not have enough gold to support all the paper money they offered. So the money had little or no value. It was called a wildcat bill or a wildcat bank note. The banks who offered this money were called wildcat banks. A newspaper of the time said those were the days of wildcat money. It said a man might be rich in the morning and poor by night. Wildcat was used in another way in the eighteen hundreds. It was used for an oil well or gold mine that had almost no oil or gold in it. Dishonest developers would buy such property. Then they would sell it and leave town with the money. The buyers were left with worthless holes in the ground. Today, wildcat oil wells are in areas that are not known to have oil. Yet another kind of wildcat is the wildcat strike. That is a strike called without official approval by a union. During World War Two, an American publication accused wildcat strikers of slowing government production. AFTERWORDS