Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR
Today we tell about two words
that are close in meaning. One is to
buffalo. The other is to bulldoze. Both deal with winning by tricking or
before the first Europeans arrived in the New World, a strange looking animal
lived on the rich grasses of the western plains. He looked like some kind of water
buffalo. But he had a big hump on his
back like a camel. And he had hair like
a lion. He later was called a bison.
In eighteen fifty, estimates say twenty million buffalo lived on the open plains
areas of the west. They were powerful creatures that ran with great speed. American Indians hunted them for food and
clothing. As white settlers moved west,
they began to hunt the animal for skins to sell in eastern markets.
American buffalo could run at the speed of almost seventy-five kilometers an
hour. It was not easy to get close
enough to them to shoot.
the hunters were completely unsuccessful in killing any of the animals. They were "buffaloed" by these powerful,
speedy creatures who were so hard to control.
The expression "to buffalo" soon became part of the speech of the
American west. It meant to make someone
helpless, to trick them. In the early nineteen
hundreds, a story about attacks on white settlers moving into Indian territory
explained, "The Sioux had the wagon-train surrounded and the soldiers
meaning is almost the same today. When
someone has you buffaloed, he has tricked or fooled you.
expression "to bulldoze" also means to make someone helpless, usually by using
power or threatening violence. The
expression was first used in the southern part of the United States to describe
the use of force to win an election. A
bulldozer was a person who was not liked, someone who threatened other people.
term today most often is used to describe a powerful machine designed to clear
away trees and other big objects. A
bulldozer moves slowly but powerfully across the land. Nothing much can stop it.
still use the expression "to bulldoze" but mainly in political situations. It is used sometimes to describe a political
move that leads to an unexpected win.
For example, a newspaper might comment that a bill that was not popular
passed in Congress because the supporters bulldozed the opposition. The force of the supporters' arguments, or
perhaps some legislative tricks, buffaloed the opponents.
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