August 03, 2014
Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
People use their mouths for many things. They eat, talk, shout and sing. They smile and they kiss. In the English language, there are many expressions using the word mouth. But some of them are not so nice.
For example, if you say bad things about a person, the person might protest and say “Do not bad mouth me.”
Sometimes, people say something to a friend or family member that they later regret because it hurts that person’s feelings. Or they tell the person something they were not supposed to tell. The speaker might say: “I really put my foot in my mouth this time.” If this should happen, the speaker might feel "down in the mouth." In other words, he might feel sad for saying the wrong thing.
Another situation is when someone falsely claims another person said something. The other person might protest: “I did not say that. Do not put words in my mouth.”
Information is often spread through "word of mouth." This is general communication between people, like friends talking to each other. “How did you hear about that new movie?” someone might ask. “Oh, by word of mouth.” A more official way of getting information is through a company or government mouthpiece. This is an official spokesperson. Government-run media could also be called a mouthpiece.
Sometimes when one person is speaking, he says the same thing that his friend was going to say. When this happens, the friend might say: “You took the words right out of my mouth!” Sometimes a person has a bad or unpleasant experience with another person. He might say that experience “left a bad taste in my mouth.” Or the person might have had a very frightening experience, like being chased by an angry dog. He might say: “I had my heart in my mouth.”
Some people have lots of money because they were born into a very rich family. There is an expression for this, too. You might say such a person, “was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”
This rich person is the opposite of a person who lives from hand to mouth. This person is very poor and only has enough money for the most important things in life, like food.
Parents might sometimes withhold sweet food from a child as a form of punishment for saying bad things. For example, if a child says things she should not say to her parents, she might be described as a "mouthy child." The parents might even tell the child to "stop mouthing off."
But enough of all this talk. I have been "running my mouth" long enough.
Words and Their Stories in VOA Special English was written by Jill Moss.
I’m Christopher Cruise.