October 06, 2015 05:31 UTC

Words and Their Stories

Words and Their Stories programs explain idioms and expressions that many learners of American English find difficult to understand.

4:38 PM - 4:43 PM October 01, 2015

Know Your Enemy

5:07 PM - 5:12 PM September 24, 2015

Besties, Buds, BFFs ... Friends!

4:03 PM - 4:08 PM September 17, 2015

Let’s Play the Brain Game

5:54 PM - 5:59 PM September 02, 2015

Feel the Pinch

6:41 PM - 6:46 PM August 28, 2015

Are You Too Smart for Your Own Good?

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

    Video Know Your Enemy

    Do you have an enemy? Hopefully, you don’t. An enemy is someone who hates you and you hate them back. An enemy threatens you, attacks you or tries to harm you. In some languages, there are different words for a personal enemy versus an enemy of war, political enemy or enemy of the state.

    Audio Besties, Buds, BFFs ... Friends!

    We often say, “You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.” This expression means that our friends are the people we choose to have in our lives. They can be so important. This story teaches great ways to talk about the besties, buds and BFFs (Best Friends Forever) in your life.

    Audio Let’s Play the Brain Game

    The brain is a complex and amazing organ. So, it is only natural that the word "brain" is used in many expressions in American English. Check out this Words and Their Stories to learn some brain words. You will also learn a fun brainteaser to share with your friends and family!

    Audio Feel the Pinch

    There are many expressions in American English to describe the situation of not having much money ... or any money! Learn what it means to "feel the pinch," to be "up against it" and "to throw in the towel." With world economies entering bad times, these expressions could come in handy.

    Audio Are You Too Smart for Your Own Good?

    If you think being smart is always a good thing, think again. Smart has many meanings. Read on to find out what they are and the surprising origin of the term Smart Aleck.

    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.

Learn with The News

  • Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations in Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting post in TPP Ministers "Family Photo" in Atlanta, Georgia, October 1, 2015.

    Audio Twelve Countries Reach Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal

    For the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal to take effect, the agreement needs approval from national legislatures in all 12 countries. Completion of the deal is a major foreign policy victory for U.S. President Barack Obama. However, U.S. congressional approval of the deal is not guaranteed. More

  • Nobel prize in Medicine - winners

    Audio Ireland, Japan, China Scientists Share Nobel Prize for Medicine

    The first of the 2015 Nobel Prizes has been announced. The committee awarded the prize to scientists from Ireland, Japan and China for discoveries that will reduce death and suffering. For one of these countries, it is a first-ever win. More

  • In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Oct. 4, 2015, an aerial view of a bomb explosion in Syria.

    Audio Western Nations Criticize Russia’s Air Campaign in Syria

    Western military experts have studied video recordings and said Russia is mostly using unguided, or dumb, bombs. Experts say such weapons greatly increase the risk of damage and death in civilian areas. Russia began the airstrikes September 30. More

  • Video US Promises to Investigate Afghan Hospital Attack

    The aid group Doctors Without Borders says at least 22 people died in the attack in Kunduz. Afghan officials say Taliban fighters were hiding in a hospital and on its grounds. But the Taliban and Doctors Without Borders say that is not true. More

  • New Zealand Marine Reserve

    Audio New Zealand To Establish Massive Marine Reserve

    Marine reserves are special places offer great opportunities to see rare and abundant sea creatures and environments. The Kermedec Sanctuary will cover 620 thousand square kilometers of largely clean ocean. It will be one of the largest marine reserves to protect wildlife in the South Pacific. More

Featured Stories

  • Video Know Your Enemy

    Do you have an enemy? Hopefully, you don’t. An enemy is someone who hates you and you hate them back. An enemy threatens you, attacks you or tries to harm you. In some languages, there are different words for a personal enemy versus an enemy of war, political enemy or enemy of the state. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: Comparatives and Superlatives

    When we want to compare things we use comparative and superlative forms. Find out some of rules and exceptions of these important forms in Everyday Grammar for this week. More

  • Video ‘The Martian’ Mixes Science, Science Fiction

    Hollywood's latest space operation gone wrong movie stars Matt Damon as an astronaut mistakenly left on Mars. The film is a hit with movie critics. But what do science critics think? More

  • The Open Boat by Stephen Crane, Part 2

    Video The Open Boat by Stephen Crane, Part Two

    We continue the story of “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane. As we told you last week, the story is based on true events. In eighteen ninety-six, Crane was traveling to Cuba as a news reporter. On his way there, his ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean. Crane climbed into the last remaining lifeboat. More

  • Audio Great Barrier Reef Choking on Pollutants

    The Great Barrier Reef is off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia. It is the largest living organism on Earth. However, the reef is being damaged by climate change and pollutants from farms that flow into the reef. More

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