Monday, August 26, 2013

"A Small, Powerful Word: Hit" from VOA

Now, Words and Their Stories, a VOA Special English program about American expressions.

I’m Rich Kleinfeldt with some expressions containing the word “hit.”

“Hit” is a small word, but it has a lot of power. Baseball players hit the ball. Missiles hit an airplane. A car hits a tree.

“Hit” also joins with other words to create many colorful expressions. One is “hit the road.” It means to travel or to leave a place, as suggested in this song “Hit the Road.”

Another common expression is “hit the spot.” At first it meant hitting a spot at the center of a target with an arrow. Someone who did so was satisfied with his shooting. Now, hitting the spot usually means that a food or drink is especially satisfying.

Many years ago, Pepsi Cola sold its drink with a song that began “Pepsi Cola hits the spot, twelve full ounces, that’s a lot…”

Another expression involving hit is “hit bottom.” Something that has hit bottom can go no lower. If the price of shares of a stock hits bottom that might be the time to buy it -- its value can only go up.

A student who tells you his grades have hit bottom is saying he has not done well in school.

When a student’s grades hit bottom it is time to “hit the books.” “Hit the books” is another way to saying it is time to study. A student might have to tell her friends she cannot go with them to the movies because she has to “hit the books.”

Not hitting the books could lead to an unpleasant situation for a student. The father or mother may “hit the ceiling” when they see the low grades. Someone who hits the ceiling -- the top of the room -- is violently angry. A wife may hit the ceiling because her husband forgot their wedding anniversary.

To build something of wood, you usually need a hammer. That is what you use to hit nails into the pieces of wood to hold them together. When you “hit the nail on the head” -- exactly on its top -- it goes into the wood perfectly. And when someone says your words or actions “hit the nail on the head” he means what you said or did was exactly right.

If you are tired after hitting all those nails on the head, then it is time to “hit the hay.” That expression comes from the days when people slept on beds filled with dried grass or hay. Some people slept on hay in barns where they kept their farm animals.

​Hitting the hay simply means going to bed. That is a good idea. I think I will hit the hay now.

This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Frank Beardsley.

I’m Rich Kleinfeldt.

Other Idioms With Hit:

"hit the jackpot" = win a lot of money. Example: My friend won the lottery and hit the jackpot.

"hit it off" = get along well with another. Example: The teachers at Mission Campus really hit if off.

"hit someone up" = borrow money for a short time. Example: I hit my brother up for $100 until the follow week.


1. When I published my book, I thought I would ______________________. But I really didn't make that much money.
a: hit bottom
b: hit the ceiling
c: hit the books
d: hit the jackpot

2. I'm real short today. Can I ________________ for ten bucks until tomorrow?
a: hit you
b: hit you up
c: hit bottom
d: hit the jackpot

3. Well, it's been a long day, and I think it's time we hit the hay. This means ___________________.
a: get the hay ready for the horses
b: do exercise with hay bales before turning in
c: go to bed and sleep
d: have a whisky before turning in

4. I realized our business ______________ when there were zero sales in August.
a: hit the jackpot
b: hit bottom
c: hit the ceiling
d: hit the books

5. I had to really __________________ because it was close to exam time.
a: hit the road
b: hit it off
c: hit the books
d: hit the ceiling

6. I enjoyed the party because of the people. We really hit it off, meaning ___________________ .
a: we got drunk together
b: we got along with each other
c: we got into the fight in the street
d: we played a game whose object was hitting a target on the wall

7. When you said this economy was going from bad to worse, you really __________________________ .
a: hit the nail on the head
b: hit the spot
c: hit bottom
d: hit it off

8. My father ____________________ when he saw my poor report card. I had to promise him I would do better.
a: hit the spot
b: hit the ceiling
c: hit the books
d: hit me off

9. I really like this fruit drink you gave me. It really ___________________ .
a: hits the spot
b: hits it off
c: hits it up
d: hits me where it hurts

10. "Hit the road" means __________________________________ .
a: bang a hard object on the road's surface
b: begin a trip or leave a place
c: reconstruct a damaged road
d: turn left at the stop sign


  1. I want my teacher FAROQ to see it .

  2. Vocabulary comprehension is a crucial component in acquiring reading comprehension skills. Successful vocabulary development ensures that students will develop metacognitive skills which will assist children in comprehending advanced texts requirements when they leave the learning to read phase, and are expected to read to learn. helps you to grow your vocabulary.
    Try it..!!

  3. I love to read about this . Well explained, thanks.
    Learn English

  4. what about hit and miss !!!