Now, the VOA Special English
program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
often use expressions about animals.
two thousand eight, the main candidates for president each used this
expression: "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig." This means that it is a waste of time to
change something from ugly or unpleasant-looking to beautiful.
other expressions about improving a pig's appearance, like this one: "A
hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog." Hogs are similar to pigs, only bigger. Americans use many other expressions about pigs, hogs and female hogs called sows. Like this one: "You cannot make a
silk purse out of a sow's ear." This means you cannot create something valuable from something that has
In a pig's eye is
another unusual expression. It means
something that is not so, or will never happen. Then there is the expression casting pearls before swine. That means wasting something valuable on
someone who will not be thankful or care about it.
However, at least one kind of pig can be useful in saving
money. It is called a piggy bank. You can buy a small container shaped like a
pig. It has a hole where a child can
put money into it.
Hogs are very large animals. If you say you ate high on the hog during a holiday, it means you
ate very good or costly food. If you
went whole hog on your trip, it means you did everything possible to
have fun. But you should never go hog-wild
at any time because that means behaving badly.
Hogs take up a lot of space but people should not take up more
than their share. If one of your
children is taking up too much space sitting in front of the television, other
children might say: "Do not hog the couch." And a road hog is a driver who uses
more than his share of the road. Such a
driver increases dangers for other drivers.
Pig terms are also used in
American politics. Farmers mark their
pigs' ears to identify them. In
politics, earmarks are money set aside for projects in a congressman's
home state or locality. And politicians
might say there is a lot of pork in a budget proposal, meaning wasteful
In many areas, pigs provide ham, bacon and other pork products to
eat. All Americans want to be able to bring
home the bacon. That means
to earn enough money to provide the necessities of life. Experts say this term was first used in the
nineteen twenties. But it is believed to come from the much older game of catching a greased
pig. This was a popular event at
country fairs in which the winner was awarded the pig.
This VOA Special
English program was written by Shelley Gollust. I'm Barbara Klein. You
can find more WORDS AND THEIR STORIES at voaspecialenglish.com.