August 28, 2015 14:44 UTC

Words and Their Stories

Words and Their Stories each week explains idioms and expressions that many learners of American English find difficult to understand.


9:24 PM - 9:29 PM August 21, 2015

More Latin for Your English!


4:18 PM - 4:23 PM August 14, 2015

Improve Your English with Latin!


5:08 PM - 5:09 PM August 10, 2015

Dialogue: Mortgage and Other "Death" Words


8:46 PM - 8:51 PM August 07, 2015

Mortgage and Other "Death" Words


4:32 PM - 4:37 PM July 30, 2015

Let’s Go on a Space Trip!


4:05 PM - 4:10 PM July 23, 2015

"You're Giving Me the Creeps!"


7:18 PM - 7:23 PM July 16, 2015

Okay. A Common Word of Mysterious Origin.


7:45 PM - 7:50 PM July 09, 2015

What Is That Thing Called?


8:19 PM - 8:25 PM July 02, 2015

Independence Day


4:34 PM - 4:39 PM June 26, 2015

Don't Be Caught With Your Pants Down


7:19 PM - 7:24 PM June 19, 2015

Celebrate Fathers!


8:38 PM - 8:43 PM June 12, 2015

Let the Sun Shine In


5:16 PM - 5:21 PM June 04, 2015

Maverick, A Truly American Word


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM May 31, 2015

Words and Their Stories

Words and Their Stories each week explains idioms and expressions that many learners of American English find difficult to understand.


9:45 PM - 9:50 PM May 29, 2015

Words That Are Their Own Opposites


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM May 24, 2015

Words and Their Stories

Words and Their Stories each week explains idioms and expressions that many learners of American English find difficult to understand.


7:11 PM - 7:17 PM May 21, 2015

Hold Your Horses!


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM May 17, 2015

Words and Their Stories

Words and Their Stories each week explains idioms and expressions that many learners of American English find difficult to understand.


9:36 PM - 9:41 PM May 15, 2015

Common French Words in American English


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM May 10, 2015

Words and Their Stories

Words and Their Stories each week explains idioms and expressions that many learners of American English find difficult to understand.

    Video More Latin for Your English!

    In part two of our series on Latin’s influence on American English, we learn more Latin words and phrases. From popular movies to rock songs, Latin is used very frequently in American English.

    Audio Mortgage and Other 'Death' Words

    Unless you pay for a new home in cash, you'll need a mortgage, or "death pledge." On second thought, the word "mortgage" sounds nicer. Find out mortgages and other "deadly" words.

    Audio Let’s Go on a Space Trip!

    You do not need to spend $50 million on a ticket to the moon. Just close your eyes and come with us to a trip into outer space! Learn idioms that will help you navigate the world of space.

    'You're Giving Me the Creeps!'

    "You're giving me the ...!" The jitters, the creeps, the willies, the heebie-jeebies, goose bumps, butterflies, and a heart attack ... you can give all these things to other people. Are they good or bad? Read on to find out!

    Audio OK, Okay, Okey-Dokey Are A-Okay

    Okay, on Words and Their Stories this week we look at one of the most commonly used words in the English language and maybe around the world. But language experts still have no idea where the word "okay" comes from. And that's okay.

    Audio What Is That Thing Called?

    We all forget the names of things. Well, don't worry! Read on to learn words for the words you've forgotten! American English has many interesting words for for those times when you just don't know the exact name of something, including ... wait ... what is it called again?

    Audio Independence Day

    Independence Day is a huge celebration in the United States. People celebrate by having parades and picnics and usually end the day with fireworks. So what do some of these words mean?

    Audio Don't Be Caught With Your Pants Down

    Are you too big for your boots? Do you often fly by the seat of your pants? Learn what these clothing expressions mean and so many others. You may be excited to get started but keep your shirt on! Be patient. All you have to do is click on this episode of Words and Their Stories.

    Audio Celebrating Fathers!

    On the third Sunday in June, Americans take time to recognize and thank a special person in the family – fathers! Father's Day celebrates the importance of fathers, young and old, and the men thought of as father figures. “Like father, like son” is probably the most common father expression.

    Audio Let the Sun Shine In

    We wouldn't last long without our sun. So, it's only natural that we have many expressions that use the word "sun." And many songs are about the sun. Read to learn a couple.

    Video Maverick, A Truly American Word

    There are mavericks in sports, politics, movies ... just about everywhere. But who are mavericks? Learn what the word “maverick” means and the very cool story explaining its origin in American English. Also, see a scene from the very popular movie “Top Gun" to see Maverick in action.

    Audio Words That Are Their Own Opposites

    Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, learn words seem to fight themselves -- they are their own opposites! Well, depending on the context. Context is important when learning a language; but with these words, context is everything. Learn more about these Janus words and why they are called Janus words.

    Audio Hold Your Horses!

    Horses are part of the history and romance of the Old American West. These days, they are popular for sport and entertainment. So, it is easy to understand why we Americans use so many horse expressions. Learn some of the most common and try to answer our horse riddle!

    Audio Common French Words in American English

    English is loaded with French words. Even if they mean something bad they sound so good. So read on to learn how to say them properly. Pictured here, French Actress Michele Morgan poses in a bathing suit at the 1st Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France in 1946.

    Audio Not All Mother Expressions Are As Nice As Mom

    In the United States, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May. It was back in 1908 when a woman named Anna Jarvis created this unofficial holiday to honor mothers. However, Ms. Jarvis would later criticize Mother’s Day. She said it had become too commercial -- too much about spending money.

    Video S.O.S. – In Other Words, Help!

    Language, as we know, is always changing. New words are often created, officially and unofficially, without anyone knowing about them. Read on to learn a word that many Americans do not know. Here is a clue: S.O.S. is one.

    Audio When It Comes to Money, Black Is Better Than Red

    Colors come to the rescue when you want to describe a business that is making money or losing money. Judging from Jack Ma's smile at Alibaba's IPO at the New York Stock Exchange, he's making a lot of money. Also learn other useful banking terms.

    Audio Early American Railroads Shape Modern Language

    This week, we look at some train and railroad expressions commonly used in American English. This is only part one. There are many idioms and expressions relating to trains. So ... all aboard! Make sure you have your ticket because this train is leaving the station!

    Audio American Expressions at Home

    Some people enjoy spending a lot of time in their homes to make them nice places to live. This is called nesting or cocooning. From couch potatoes to cabin fever -- learn some great idioms that have to do with the home.

Learn with The News

  • Audio China's Slowing Economy Affects Markets Worldwide

    China’s stock market has dropped by more than 40 percent since June. Signs of a slowing economy in China have had effects on other stock markets and raised questions of whether measure to increase growth are enough. More

  • Audio As many as 50 Migrants Found Dead in a Truck in Austria

    The discovery of up to 50 dead refugees in Austria came on the same day as a European migrant crisis meeting in Vienna. Also in the news, President Barack Obama visits New Orleans ahead of the city's 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; China's stock markets recover after 5 days of losses. More

  • Audio Fighting Climate Change Important to Obama

    President Obama has called climate change the greatest threat to national security. At a clean energy meeting this week, he pushed solar power and other renewable energy sources. His political opponents say his plans will hurt the oil, gas and coal industries and the American economy. More

  • Audio Book Pages Could Provide Safe Drinking Water

    The expression "a thirst for knowledge" may soon have a new meaning for millions of people who have no way to get clean water. Researchers have developed a book with specially treated pages that can make water safe to drink. More

  • Audio Philippines Looking at 'Ecotourism Zone' in South China Sea

    The Philippines has launched a campaign to push for an "ecotourism zone" in the middle of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Under the plan, tourists could visit Philippine-controlled parts of the disputed area. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims to the area. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Millions with Mental Illness Get Little or No Treatment

    The World Health Organization reports that hundreds of millions of people worldwide have a mental disorder. However, the WHO adds that most get little or no treatment. Learn the vocabulary needed to talk about this important study. More

  • Hoarding

    Video Could Organizing Your Home Change Your Life?

    A new movement in the United States is all about clearing away unnecessary things in your life. A Japanese cleaning expert on clutter is now the hot topic on playgrounds, at work and parties. But can cleaning out clutter really help you succeed at your job or lose weight? Read on to learn more. More

  • Video More Latin for Your English!

    In part two of our series on Latin’s influence on American English, we learn more Latin words and phrases. From popular movies to rock songs, Latin is used very frequently in American English. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: We Suggest That You Learn the Subjunctive

    How can we be polite and stress urgency at the same time? The subjunctive offers speakers a polite and diplomatic way to give a command or express that something is very important. Learn how to use it in noun clauses from the Everyday Grammar experts. More

  • Video Movie Shows Rap Group 'Straight Outta Compton'

    The music genre known as gangster, or gangsta, rap was born in the poor, dangerous neighborhood of Compton, in Los Angeles, California. The violence of street life there and tense relations between the community and police influenced the sound. More

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