May 24, 2015 13:08 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.


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.


7:13 PM - 7:18 PM May 08, 2015

Not All Mother Expressions Are As Nice As Mom


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM May 03, 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.


5:32 PM - 5:37 PM April 30, 2015

S.O.S. – In Other Words, Help!


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM April 26, 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.


7:10 PM - 7:15 PM April 24, 2015

When It Comes to Money, Black Is Better Than Red


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM April 19, 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.


3:35 PM - 3:40 PM April 17, 2015

Early American Railroads Shape Modern Language


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM April 12, 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.


5:44 PM - 5:49 PM April 10, 2015

American Expressions in the Home


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM April 05, 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.


7:02 PM - 7:07 PM April 02, 2015

Expressions From the World of Bugs


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM March 29, 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.


3:38 PM - 3:43 PM March 26, 2015

Don't Panic!


12:40 AM - 12:45 AM March 22, 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.


1:56 PM - 2:01 PM March 20, 2015

Green Means Spring! And Other Things.

    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.

    Audio Expressions From the World of Bugs

    We have many expressions about bees and bugs in American English. Have you ever had a bee in your bonnet? Are you as busy as a bee? Read on to find out what these expression mean and how to use them.

    Audio Don't Panic!

    Actually ... seeing a Great White shark this close would be a great time to panic. Read on to learn about the Greek myth behind the work "panic" and some idioms. There is also a shortened section from "The Sea Wolf" by writer Jack London. He wrote one of the greatest panic attacks in literature.

    Audio Green Means Spring and Other Things

    Spring in the U.S. means the landscape is turning green. So, it's only appropriate that we teach some green idioms and expressions! Some may surprise you. Have you ever met a "green-eyed monster?" Is having a "green thumb" a good thing or something that needs a doctor's care? Read on to find out.

    Audio 'Beware the Ides of March'

    The Ides of March falls on March 15. William Shakespeare wrote the famous words, "Beware the Ides of March." But what was he talking about? And what has it got to with George Clooney? Read on to find out.

    Audio Down to Earth

    Some expressions about people who treat everyone fairly and with respect | Words and Their Stories

    Audio Top Brass

    Experts disagree about how these strange expressions started. But, they may have come from Britain. Leaders of the 19th century British army wore pieces of metal called oak leaves on their hats. The metal brass has a color similar to that of gold. So a leader or commander came to be called...

    Audio Is Your Plan Sustainable?

    Talk about business, agriculture, and growth these days usually mentions the quality of being sustainable. Find out the history and meanings of this very modern term in this week’s Words and Their Stories.

    Audio Let's Do Business!

    There are many special terms in the world of business. The following story is about a sweetheart deal which I made last week. I made the deal with a friend, and we both made a profit.

    Audio Has Fate Brought Us Together?

    Fate is a word that can be hard to understand. Fate, to describe it simply, means that something is meant to be. Fate is a word that has weight. It has power. When we say sealed one’s fate we mean a person has done something that has guaranteed a certain end result -- usually a bad one.

    Audio Are You in the Homeland Generation?

    After the 2001 terrorist attacks, we've heard the word “homeland” more often in the United States. Some are even proposing the word as the name for today’s generation of young people. But the word holds many different meanings around the world -- some positive and some quite negative.

    Audio I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

    Music fills the air. Colorful lights shine brightly in windows. Children and adults open gifts from loved ones and friends. These are all Christmas traditions. Another tradition is snow. In many places, a blanket of clean white snow covers the ground on Christmas Day, making it a "White Christmas."

    Audio Is He Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Pelznickel?

    Some of the many names of the short, fat, jolly old man with a long beard, wearing a red suit with white fur who delights children at Christmas | Words and Their Stories

    Video Salt Is More Than a Four-Letter Word

    On today’s Words and Their Stories we talk about a common word, a small word, but a word that is completely necessary for human life. In fact, without this simple, everyday material, all humans would die. Scientists know it as sodium chloride. We know it as salt.

Learn with The News

  • Pin Phunam a contortionist in Phare, The Cambodian Circus

    Video Cambodia Circus Offers a Better Life to Young Performers

    Many young people in Cambodia dream of joining the circus. For some needy and underprivileged youths some are given an opportunity at the Phare Ponleu Selpak school or PPS to learn circus skills that may help change their lives for the better. More

  • Team Grin plans to race to Alaska in this Etchells 22, currently moored in Port Townsend, Washington. (Tom Banse/VOA)

    Audio Sail, Row, Paddle, All The Way To Alaska

    In less than three weeks the first-ever Race to Alaska will be an exciting and challenging journey for anyone brave enough to enter with their non-motorized boat. One can only race by sailing, rowing, paddling, pedaling or a combination of those activities. More

  • Video Learning at the Laundromat

    College students teach mathematics and English to poor, immigrant children at a coin laundry near Washington, DC. At the same time, the students are helping the owner of the business become more profitable. The tutoring is part of the business plan they have created. | As It Is More

  • Audio Islamic State Militants Capture Two Major Cities

    The Islamic State seized control of the Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday. The fall of Palmyra reportedly left the militants in control of half of Syria. Last Sunday, the militants took control of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province.| In The News More

  • Fiery Cross Reef, Spratly Islands

    Audio China Warns US Spy Plane in South China Sea

    China's navy is reported to have issued eight warning messages to a U.S. military spy plane over several man-made islands. Boats with Rohingya migrants accepted in Indonesian waters. U.S. and Cuba continue talks toward diplomatic ties. More

Featured Stories

  • 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! More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar - Introducing Conditionals

    In everyday conversation, English speakers often talk about things that are not true. Or, they talk about things that only happen if something else happens. Learn how to correctly use these conditional forms in English. If you write to us, we will let you know if it is correct. More

  • Discover Debate

    Audio Successful Debate for New Learners and Large Classes

    Many students of English engage in debate as part of their training. In Part Two of our Successful Debate series, we learn the kinds of debate topics that work well for English learners. An expert shares tips for organizing a debate in a large class and for answering arguments. More

  • Nina Marranca looks at her phone, June 25, 2013.

    Audio Deaf-Blind Woman First to Use Braille Phone

    New technology allows deaf and blind people to use the telephone. The tests are underway in Australia and the U.S. It could help end isolation that people who cannot see or hear say they feel. Learn about this exciting new technology as well as words like "Braille" and "parallel testing." More

  • Video Resounding Earth: Creating Music from Metal

    "The title “Resounding Earth” on the one hand, we are talking about resounding earth. The earth is full of metals that all of mankind has turned into instruments. We are going to play them from all around the world together on one stage." More

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