July 04, 2015 17:02 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.


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.


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.

    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.

    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.

Learn with The News

  • Audio Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About the 4th of July

    Sure, you know Americans celebrate their Independence Day on the fourth day of July. But do you know they have the wrong date? Or where they get all those fireworks? Hint: not from the UK. More

  • Video France's 'Freedom Frigate' to Celebrate 4th of July

    A warship from France that came to the United States 235 years ago became a sign of friendship between the two countries. The French ship traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to help defeat the British during the American revolutionary war. Now a full-scale replica has been making that same trip. More

  • Video Japanese-Americans Remember End of World War II

    VOA goes to a gathering of old men who served in the American military during the war. They fought against Japan while their families were being detained in internment camps in the US. “I…felt very strongly that we needed to show that we were patriotic Americans.” | As It Is More

  • Audio Chinese Children Seeking a Happy Ending

    Repeated cases of child abuse in China have shocked the country. They also have led to more protection of children’s rights. But child welfare activists say the government and private groups need to do more to stop neglect and violence against children. More

  • Tunisia Attack

    Audio Tunisia Detains 12 in Connection with Hotel Attacks

    Also in the news today, an Afghan court is canceling death sentences given to four men for a mob killing of a woman; At least 36 dead in Philippines boat accident, and dozens remain missing; and the United States and Japan will face each other again in the Women’s World Cup final this Sunday. More

Featured Stories

  • 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? More

  • Video The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien, Part One

    This story by a little-known American writer tells of a young man with a strong desire. He wants to learn how to use a microscope to see a tiny world. He tries to talk with a ghost to learn a secret from the inventor of the microscope. What will happen when he tries to build his own microscope? More

  • South Korea Film Terminator Genisys

    Video Demons, Male Dancers and Dinosaurs at Theaters Everywhere

    Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the Terminator and Channing Tatum reprises his role as stripper Magic Mike. But there are also scary movies about demon children, comedies with a talking teddy bear and a marijuana-smoking secret agent; and a documentary about the late British singer Amy Winehouse. More

  • Audio Sweet Potatoes as Medicine

    Researchers have helped to reduce a major health problem with a simple food – the orange sweet potato. A program created to help farmers grow the crop has unexpected and healthy results. Some reports say this is the first time an agricultural program has had a major effect on health. More

  • Video Robots Ready to Work in Restaurants

    For many years, machines have been doing work that people once did, including some difficult jobs. Search and rescue operations employ high technology robots. But there is another area that may soon take jobs traditionally held by human beings: the restaurant industry. More

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