November 27, 2015 15:23 UTC

Words and Their Stories

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

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!

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?

    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.

    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?

The Day in Photos

 A volunteer holds up a baby as others help migrants and refugees to disembark from a dinghy after their arrival from the Turkish coast on the Greek island of Lesbos.

A volunteer holds up a baby as others help migrants and refugees to disembark from a dinghy after their arrival from the Turkish coast on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Word of the Day

sit (verb)i

sit (verb)

See how well you learned the Word of the Day by taking this short quiz!


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TALK2US: Do Student Athletes Have Any Power?i


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Monday November 16, 18:00 UTC: Jonathan Evans is on to talk about "Do Student Athletes Have Any Power?"

Friday, November 20, 1530 UTC:   Dr. Jill and our new staff member, Rick, talk about Worms and Snakes: Animals We Love to Hate​. Learn idioms having to do with worms and snakes!