Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Hot Idioms" from VOA

Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

“Hot” is a simple, easily understood word. So are most of the expressions made with the word hot -- but not always, as we shall see...

The words hot potato, for example, give you no idea at all to the meaning of the expression “hot potato.”

The potato is a popular vegetable in the United States. Many people like baked potatoes, cooked in an oven or fire. Imagine trying to carry a hot, baked potato in your hand. It would be difficult -- even painful -- to do so. Now we are getting close to the meaning of “hot potato.”

Some publicly-disputed issues are highly emotional. The issues must be treated carefully, or they will be difficult and painful if an elected official has to deal with them -- as difficult and painful as holding a hot potato.

One such hot potato is taxes...

Calling for higher taxes can mean defeat for a politician. And yet, if taxes are not raised, some very popular government programs could be cut. And that
also can make a politician very unpopular. So the questions must be dealt with carefully -- the same way you would handle any other hot potato.

Another expression is “not so hot.” If you ask someone how she feels, she may answer “not so hot.” What she means is she does not feel well.

“Not so hot” also is a way of saying that you do not really like something. You may tell a friend that the new play you saw last night is “not so hot.” That means you did not consider it a success.

A “hot shot” is a person -- often a young person -- who thinks he can do anything. At least he wants to try. He is very sure he can succeed. But often he fails. The expression was born in the military forces. A “hot shot” was a soldier who fired without aiming carefully.

Hot is a word that is often used to talk about anger.

A person who becomes angry easily is called a “hothead.” An angry person's neck often becomes red. We say he is “hot under the collar.” You could say that your friend “is no hothead.” But he got “hot under the collar” when someone took his radio.

In 1963, “hotline” appeared as a new expression.

Photo: Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy June 3, 1961 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy June 3, 1961

The hotline was a direct communications link between the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States. The hotline had an important purpose: to prevent accidental war between the two competitors during the period known as the Cold War. The American president and the Soviet leader were able to communicate directly and immediately on the hotline. This helped prevent any conflict during an international crisis.

You have been listening to the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

Our program was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano.

I’m Warren Scheer.


1. A person with a tendency to get mad is a "_____________________ ."
a: hotshot
b: hothead
c: hot potato
d: hot guy

2. A "hotline" ________________ .
a: a special telephone connection that allows parties to reach each other quickly
b: a dangerous, live wire from a fallen pole
c: very fast inner city metro
d: the line of a fisherman who has unusually good luck

3. The problem of gun control in the United States is a political ___________________.
a: hothead
b: hot potato
c: hot under the collar
d: hot explosion

4. Maria saw Juan from a distance and confided in her friend Sara, "He's a hot guy." By that, she meant __________________ .
a: he loses his temper easily
b: he eats too many potatoes
c: he's a handsome man
d: he's going to be a politician

5. Tom said that the movie he saw last night wasn't too hot. He meant that _____________________ .
a: it wasn't very good
b: there wasn't enough violence in it
c: there wasn't enough sex in it
d: it was just the right temperature

6. A "hot shot" is someone who ______________________________ .
a: is not confident in himself
b: is very skillful and knows it
c: gets angry at the drop of a hat
d: is an excellent marksman

7. A stockbroker who says "This company is really hot right now." _______________________ .
a: is trying to get me to sell my stock in the company
b: is trying to persuade me to buy stock in the company
c: is discouraging me from investing in the company
d: is saying that the company's current popularity is only temporary

When Sam dated Norman's girlfriend, normally mild-mannered Norman suddenly ________________________.
a: felt like a hot potato
b: quickly reached for the lover's hotline
c: wanted nothing more than to take hot shot at Sam
d: got hot under the collar

9. David said, "I'm really hot for you, Jennifer." _______________________ .
a: This meant that Jennifer really liked David
b: This meant that David was crazy about Jennifer's baked potatoes
c: This meant that David really liked Jennifer
d: This was a request to Jennifer that she please lower the temperature in her apartment

10. If a person is full of "hot air", that means the person ______________________.
a: talks too much and doesn't really say much
b: has a digestive problem
c: is just like a hot shot only more egotistic
d: is always slightly off the ground

1 comment:

  1. Nice post.Vocabulary comprehension is a crucial component in acquiring reading comprehension skills. Learn English