February 11, 2016 17:05 UTC

Words and Their Stories

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


6:39 PM - 6:44 PM February 03, 2016

Are You a Snow Bird or Snow Bunny?


8:17 PM - 8:22 PM January 27, 2016

The Language of a Blizzard


6:50 PM - 6:55 PM January 21, 2016

Life in the Fast Lane


7:29 PM - 7:34 PM January 14, 2016

Will: Do you have it?


6:42 PM - 6:47 PM January 08, 2016

Let’s Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty


10:09 PM - 10:14 PM December 31, 2015

How to 'Steal' A Kiss


11:13 PM - 11:18 PM December 23, 2015

What Is Your Achilles' Heel?


5:48 PM - 5:53 PM December 18, 2015

This Holiday Season, Don't Be A Scrooge!


6:42 PM - 6:47 PM December 10, 2015

Burning Your Bridges Could Be Bad Career Move


8:21 PM - 8:26 PM December 02, 2015

"Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!"


8:21 PM - 8:26 PM November 27, 2015

Shenandoah: A Native American Story


9:56 PM - 10:01 PM November 19, 2015

Bless You!


4:23 PM - 4:28 PM November 12, 2015

Worms and Snakes: Animals We Love to Hate


7:30 PM - 7:35 PM November 05, 2015

Fiasco (Or, When Things Go Very, Very Wrong)


7:48 PM - 7:53 PM October 29, 2015

Evil Expressions


6:04 PM - 6:09 PM October 22, 2015

Silver Bullet, a Magic Cure-all


5:57 PM - 6:02 PM October 15, 2015

Are You Good at Logistics?


8:21 PM - 8:26 PM October 09, 2015

Weasel, Duck, Dog: Animals That Are Also Verbs


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!

    Video Are You a Snowbird or Snow Bunny?

    Many people love a big snowstorm, such as snow bunnies. Snow bunnies are not cute little animals that hop around on the ground. Some Americans dislike cold weather so much they go to a warmer climate to escape it. These people are called snowbirds.

    Audio Do You Know This Blizzard of New Words?

    People all over the world love to talk about weather. Today, we talk about expressions that come from extreme winter weather. Winters in the northern United States are cold and snowy. Sometimes, the snows come with extremely strong winds. These snowstorms are called blizzards.

    Audio Life in the Fast Lane

    It can be said that the United States is a driving culture. The U.S., after all, is a big country and many Americans love cars. What is life in the fast lane like? Find out and learn other idioms from the road.

    Will: Do You Have It?

    Today we talk about a seemingly simple four-letter word: will. But do not be fooled. The word will is a strong noun and a powerful verb. As a verb, will requires you to do something. If you say you will take action, you have promised to do it with no excuses -- no ifs, ands or buts.

    Audio Let's Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty!

    Words that rhyme are common in English. Nitty-gritty is both a noun and an adjective. New York City and other urban cities can be described as nitty-gritty, or rough around the edges. Read on to find out all the ways you can use this informal rhyming word. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty!

    Audio Have You Ever 'Stolen' A Kiss?

    Anna Matteo weaves a tale about Words and Their Stories with a song about lost loves. Around the holidays, a man runs into a woman in the grocery store. They were once in love. They share memories together and then ... Here's Anna's story.

    What Is Your Achilles' Heel?

    On your body, your Achilles’ heel is the tendon on the back of your ankle. In spoken English, your Achilles’ heel is your weak spot. You can say either “Achilles’ heel” or “Achilles’(s) heel.” Both are correct.

    Audio This Holiday Season, Don't Be A Scrooge!

    On today’s show, we will explore two words that come from one of the most popular Christmas stories made into a movie: “A Christmas Carol.” Writer Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843. Ebenezer Scrooge is the main character of the story.

    Video Burning Bridges Is a Bold Move in War and in Life

    A bridge is a structure that provides passage over something -- such as a river, train tracks, a highway or a deep, wide opening in the ground. The expression “burning your bridges” means to act in a way that destroys any chance of returning to the way things were.

    Audio 'Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!'

    Fibs. Stretch the truth. Exaggerate. Make things up. Half-truths. Bend the truth. Outright lies. And out-and-out, barefaced or bold-faced lies. To be tangled in a web of one’s own lies … is no place to be.

    Audio Shenandoah and Its Native American Roots

    The word "Shenandoah" is beautiful and mysterious. It almost sounds like a secret. Shenandoah was the name of a Native American chief. Today it is the name of a national park and river in the U.S. Learn the story behind this word. Also, learn some great adjectives to describe the beauty of nature.

    Video Bless You!

    Americans celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. Family and friends gather around the dinner table, eat a big meal together and say what they are thankful for. It's time to learn the expression, "Bless you!"

    Audio Worms and Snakes: Animals We Love to Hate

    Some animals just are not as loved as others. There is a reason cute cat videos are so popular on the Internet and not, oh, let’s say cute snake videos. But they are used in popular idioms!

    Video When Things Go Very, Very Wrong

    A fiasco is something that goes completely wrong often in a ridiculous or embarrassing way. It is dramatic and sometimes absurd. These are all important words when talking about fiascos. They are what make fiascos different from other types of failures.

    Audio Evil Expressions

    Today we look at the usage and meaning of expressions using the word "hell." They are very common! Find out what happens to a snowball in hell. And learn which road to take to get to hell.

    Video Silver Bullet, a Magic Cure-all

    The belief that there is magical power in the metal silver goes back to ancient Greece. In the stories of other cultures, a silver bullet is the only way to defeat monsters like werewolves and witches.

    Audio Are You Good at Logistics?

    All big events -- from weddings to military operations to school field trips -- involve logistics. Learn what this word means and how to use it against the backdrop of a famous event in U.S. history. Also learn the difference between the words "compliment" and "complement."

    Audio Weasel, Duck, Dog: Animals That Are Also Verbs

    Enough horsing around! We finally stop floundering and deliver this week's program, even though it means scapegoating one of our own. Don't be cowed by the topic: these words are fun and will not outfox you.

    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.

The Day in Photos

A man feeds seagulls on a beach along the Arabian Sea in Mumbai, India, February 9, 2016.

A man feeds seagulls on a beach along the Arabian Sea in Mumbai, India, February 9, 2016.

Word of the Day

annual (adjective)i
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02/10/2016

annual (adjective)

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Wednesday, February 10, 1500 UTC: Dr. Jill Robbins and new intern Jessie Vo host.