01 Apr

rediscovering a word series 6: rug

Who taught: Audrey

toupee rug

toupee rug

I just sent an email to my coworker, Amber, and made a dummy mistake. When I meant to say, “Thank you very much, Amber! – Terry,” I wrote, “Thank you very much, Terry!”

These two mean so different. How dummy does it sound? I was thanking myself. Arghhh….

Luckily, I realized my mistake very quickly and sent another email to her to clarify. She understood and gave me an example where a comma can make a big difference.

“Let’s eat, Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat Grandma!” The only difference is a comma here but they man very different, right, like my mistake?

English…. English…. How can I not love you?

Anyway, today, I want to continue the series of rediscovering a word. Today’s word is “rug.”


So, what is a rug?

A rug is a floor covering of shaggy or woven material, typically not extending over the entire floor. It’s similar to carpet but there is a difference. You want to read this post to understand the difference.

Great… Well…. Let me ask again! What is a rug? I know.. I already told you what it is. But, there is another definition.

I am a man. When a bold man wants to cover his bold head, they would wear a thing. That is “toupee.”

Well, when you are in front of those men, you want to be careful about saying “rug” because rug also means toupee. A few days ago, I was watching an episode of a TV show, Rules of Engagement. Audrey in the show used this word to mean “toupee” that another guy was wearing but I had a hard time to understand why it was supposed to be funny because she and her husband did talk about a rug for their apartment a few seconds ago.

You may think you can speak English? But, until you live here in the U.S., you do not know how hard English can be.

31 Aug


Who taught: Kelly, Phil, Amber and Tami



Let me ask you a question, my non-native English speaking friends! When you are tired, what you do say? I know I know… It’s a dumb question. You have said and would say “I am tired,” right?

Have you ever tried some other ones?

To be honest, I personally have not used any other expressions than “tired” because I do not know them until two days ago.

Two days ago, I invited my friends, Phil and Kelly, to my house to have dinner together. It was perfect to grill. We had a great evening together, eating steaks and talking about how long it has been since we met for the first time five years ago. It is so precious to have wonderful friends. Thank you, Phil and Kelly, for always being there! It’s been so awesome and I am sure we will have great friendship for a long time. One day, when we are all over 80, we will have a lot to talk about. Hope that day would come very slowly! 🙂

So, it was a long weekday and naturally, after dinner, we all felt tired. At that moment, Kelly said, “Oh… I am pooped.”

When I heard, it was pretty clear what she really meant but I wanted to make sure. “What did you say, Kelly? Pooped? P O O P?,” I said.

What would you think when you heard someone says, “I am pooped?” The first thing I had in my mind was that someone really threw poop at Kelly and she got covered with poop. Oh no… that’s terrible, right?

But, it turns out that’s just another expression to mean “tired.” Why? I do not know but I also heard from Tami and Amber that people also say “I am too pooped to pop” and that expression is from the old cartoon, “Tho Popples.”

I have never seen that cartoon and I feel like I should watch it to be able to fully understand and feel this expression. If you can find any video of the cartoon where any character uses this specific expression, please share it with us?

I am sure we all feel pooped by the end of today but thankfully it is Friday. TGIF! Hope you get to enjoy a beautiful weekend! See you next week, my friends!

24 Jul


Who taught: Amber



Hello, my friends! It’s been a while. My excuse is that I have been pretty busy with my course that I am teaching this summer. But, I have never forgotten you at all.

As a software engineer, I have developed many applications in which I had so much fun. But, sometimes, it brings a lot of headaches. When there is an issue, we usually say that it has a bug. But, when we talk to our clients, we also use another word, glitch. It is a euphemism in comparison to a bug.

For that reason, I can confess that I have used this word, glitch, pretty often.

I told you that I am teaching a course this summer. Last semester, the school decided to upgrade its course registration system to a new one. And, as soon as the course started, I got some emails from some students that they cannot register for my course for some reason.

So, I sent an email to Amber, asking what is going on with the system. In her reply, she said , “The school is fixing the new system. There are still kinks.”

Great! I was happy to hear that they are working on it. But, that wasn’t it. I noticed a new word here, kinks. I have never seen that word before. From the context, I can easily understand but what is the exact meaning of it?

Literal definition is a twist or curl. For example, you could have kinks in your hair. Or in wires or ropes. Normally, it would not be good to have those kinks in your hair or rope unless that is what you want, right?

So, due to this kind of reason, kinks mean flaws or imperfection. I think it is basically the same to glitch. What do you think my native English speaking friends? Is my feeling correct?

Also, you can say “iron some kinks” to mean “fix some issues or problems.” That makes very sense because kinks are curves and we do need to iron to remove them.

I actually like this expression and feel like I will use this a lot in the future. Oops! Does it mean that I will have many kinks in my future. Hope not! Let’s not jinx! 🙂

14 Jun

ears burning

Who taught: Amber and Tami

paddle ball

paddle ball (source: http://www.fksa.org/)

At first, I thought I should not write this story but I figured that it would be useful for my friends.

Here is the thing! In Aug 2010, I already posted a story about the same expression that I learned from Kelly. About two years later, I heard the same expression and that did not even ring a bell. This showcases how hard to really make a new expression yours. Simply speaking, you gotta use it. If not, there is literally no hope to make any expression yours.

Look at me! I heard and wrote a story. Yet, I still cannot say that this is an expression that I know.

Anyway, let me get to the story.

When people gather together, they talk about a lot of different things. Sometimes, it could be movies or TV shows or sometimes foods. You know, it could be anything. We also talk about other people that are not there together with us.

A few weeks ago, Tami gave me a paddle ball. So, this is one of the games that kids in the U.S. play. Well, I have never played before. It looks so easy to play but in fact it is pretty tricky. I have tried but not really been successful. Someone should demonstrate how to play so that I can learn.

Anyway, a few days ago, I had a meeting with Amber and Tami and they told me that they had lunch and taked about me, especially about my trying to play a paddle ball. As they said, they used an expression, “Weren’t your ears burning?”

Had I know nothing about expressions, I would have said, “No, my ears never burn.” Of course, they cannot and do not burn unless someone sets a fire on them, right?

Instead of telling you what that means, let me tell you a similar expression Korean people use. If, all of a sudden, someone’s ears are itching, he or she would say that someone else must be talking about me. That’s right, in Korea, we use the verb, “itch,” instead of “burn,” in this situation.

In my opinion, ears burning makes me feel the expression better. What do you think? Maybe I can try to use “ears are itching” to my American friends to see what they would guess.

Amber also told me that some people say, “Aren’t your ears ringing?”

One important takeaway is this! To learn a new language or more specifically to learn a new expression, you gotta use it.

Use it or Lose it!

27 Mar

stop a clock

Who taught: Amber, Patty and Tami

Ugly face would stop a clock

Stop a clock (source: http://aarontodd.wordpress.com/)

Do you know what day is on Mar 17? It is St. Patrick’s Day which of course commemorates Saint Patrick who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It is a huge day for Irish people. In many countries including the U.S., there are parades on St. Patrick’s Day. I was in San Francisco with Amber, Patty and Tami this year and we all went out to see the parade.

The parade started at 11 am. So, we decided to walk to the Civic Center to see people and preparations for festivals. Oh boy! As we got closer to the San Francisco City Hall, we saw so many homeless people. After buying some souvenirs, we decided to walk back up Market St to see the start of the parade.

On the way up, I stopped by a restroom (nature’s call). As soon as I came out, Tami and Amber told me a new expression that Amber just used.

Amber said, “I just saw a face that would stop a clock.”

My first impression was that she must see someone very handsome or beautiful. In Korea, if someone is amazingly beautiful like Jessy, people say that she would stop a clock. You know what I mean? It’s like you saw someone so beautiful and all of a sudden time stands still for a while because your focus were solely on her and the whole world started to run around you and her.

Very very surprisingly, the meaning of the expression, stop a clock, in the U.S. is the opposite. If you saw someone whose face would stop a clock, that means his or her face is so ugly. It was hard for me to find its etymology. But, my guess is that even a clock cannot function properly because of someone’s face is so ugly and it is shocked by that.

What do you think, my friends?

My non-native English speaking friends, this is a good lesson for you. Be careful! Do not try to literally translate expressions that you used to use in your own countries! That can cause a huge trouble. 🙂