[00:07.34]Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.
[00:13.94]This program explores the history and usage of common expressions in American English.
[00:22.85]Today we talk about a time when half the world is waking from the dark, cold winter months.
[00:30.39]Spring! We often describe spring as a time of rebirth, renewal and awakening.
[00:40.31]Many trees are blossoming and early flowers are pushing through the earth.
[00:47.29]Things are coming to life!
[00:49.90]When the weather turns warm, many people suffer from spring fever.
[00:57.61]Common “symptoms” of spring fever include not being able to focus on school or work, taking long walks, or falling in love.
[01:11.34]So, are you actually sick when you have spring fever?
[01:16.61]Originally, yes. Spring fever used to refer to an actual illness.
[01:23.87]When the weather turned warm, some people developed sore throats, headaches, or stuffy noses.
[01:33.42]The definition of “spring fever” slowly changed in the early 1800s.
[01:39.97]People came to use the term to mean a sudden increase of romantic feelings.
[01:46.12]Elvis Presley describes this feeling in the song “Spring Fever.”
[01:52.46]“Spring fever, comes to everyone. Spring fever, it's time for fun. There’s no doubt now, love is everywhere. Get up, get out, spring is everywhere”
[02:11.70]These days, we use “spring fever” to describe a restless feeling after the long, cold days of winter.
[02:20.06]But the word “spring” is not just a season.
[02:24.87]It is also a verb that means something happening or appearing quickly.
[02:31.11]When you put “spring” and “life” together, you get spring to life.
[02:37.83]This expression means something suddenly becomes very active or perhaps seems more alive!
[02:47.11] You may spring to life after hearing that a distant friend will be visiting you.
[02:54.00]Or maybe your favorite soccer team finally sprang to life in the second half, played well, and won the match.
[03:02.25]But this is just the beginning.
[03:05.29]There are so many more "spring" expressions that mean to happen suddenly.
[03:12.70]Imagine that you are resting on the couch when suddenly you see a mouse run across the floor.
[03:21.48]You spring into action! You jump from the couch and run after the mouse! But you miss.
[03:30.13]So, that night you leave some cheese in a small device that will snap quickly: you want to spring a trap.
[03:41.29]But when you tell your roommate that you caught a mouse in a trap, tears spring from her eyes.
[03:49.90]You feel badly, but she really should have told you about her pet mouse Charlie!
[03:58.13]After all, your apartment doesn’t allow pets.
[04:02.39]And you don’t want to get in trouble with your landlord.
[04:06.64]See, your neighborhood is finally turning into a really nice place to live.
[04:12.12]There are more places to eat and shop.
[04:15.79]In fact, stores, restaurants and cafés seem to have sprung up overnight!
[04:23.20]They moved in quickly.
[04:26.38]As you can see, American English has so many phrases that use “spring” to mean "something happens quickly."
[04:36.13]The ones we have heard are just the ones that sprang to mind.
[04:41.88]In other words, they were the first ones I thought of, without spending much time thinking about it.
[04:50.03]But perhaps those examples are confusing.
[04:54.37]Maybe I should have prepared you instead of just springing them on you.
[04:59.92]And, I did it again.
[05:04.06]If you spring something on other people, you have surprised them, usually not in a good way.
[05:12.40]Let’s go back to the roommate story.
[05:15.95]Let’s say one day your roommate, the one with the pet mouse, says to you, “Oh, by the way, I’m still really upset about Charlie.
[05:26.23]So, I’m moving out tomorrow. You’ll have to find someone else to share the rent.”
[05:32.20]You say to her, “You can’t just spring that on me! I’ll need time to find another roommate!”
[05:40.38]But then you think about.
[05:43.47]Maybe it’s for the best.
[05:46.36]Every time you see her you feel guilty about Charlie, her pet mouse.
[05:52.69]And anyway, she does something that really annoys you.
[05:57.43]She always expects you to buy her things: she wants you to spring for lunch, spring for movie tickets, and sometimes even spring for groceries.
[06:12.56]When you spring for something, you pay for someone else.
[06:17.48]This expression can also be an informal invitation.
[06:22.74]At work you can say to a colleague, “I have spring fever. Let’s leave early and go to an outdoor café. I’ll spring for coffee.”
[06:35.02]Now, besides being a season and a verb, the noun “spring” refers to a metal coil that is wound tightly.
[06:45.64]When the coil unwinds, it often jumps.
[06:49.60]So, we often say a person has a spring in his step if he is lively and active.
[06:58.24]He might even appear to jump, or bounce, a little when he walks.
[07:04.43]There is another way we use “spring” as a description.
[07:09.88]In the case of a spring chicken, “spring” means young.
[07:16.08]Also called a “springer,” these young chickens have very tender meat.
[07:22.29]However, “spring chicken” is also an informal, humorous way to refer to someone who isn’t young at all.
[07:33.00]So, we use this expression in the negative form, as in “no spring chicken.”
[07:40.49]For example, let’s say you know an 85-year old man who decides to run a marathon, even though he has never exercised before.
[07:52.60]You could say, “That’s amazing! After all, he’s no spring chicken.”
[07:59.75]But be careful when using this expression.
[08:03.88]It could be a little disrespectful.
[08:07.09]Let’s say your boss shows you a picture of his wife, and you say, “Wow, she’s no spring chicken.”
[08:15.73]That response would be disrespectful and a bad career move.
[08:22.29]We end this Words and Their Stories back on the season spring.
[08:29.17]Here is a short poem by Oliver Herford titled “I Heard a Bird Sing.”
[08:36.60]It tells how a simple bird song brings a longing for spring during the month of December.
[08:44.44]I heard a bird sing
[08:46.68]In the dark of December
[08:48.82]A magical thing
[08:50.43]And sweet to remember.
[08:52.91]“We are nearer to Spring
[08:55.59]Than we were in September,”
[08:57.97]I heard a bird sing
[09:00.27]In the dark of December.
[09:04.32]I’m Anna Matteo.