16 Apr

dressed to the nines

Who taught: Tami

dress to the nines

dress to the nines

A few weeks ago, it was Easter. In Korea, people do celebrate but not as a family. Some people go to churches, participating some events.

On Easter, people here not only go to churches but also spend a day or two together with their family. In fact, if anyone goes to a church once a year, Easter would be it. Also, when they go, they dress really well. I remember I did not wear a suit on my first Easter in the U.S. and I was embarrassed by all of the other people at the chapel because they all looked really nice.

Now that I am talking about dressing well, let me introduce a new expression I learned from Tami the other day. I am so thankful that I have friends who are willing to spend some time to teach me and discuss with me those expressions.

She sent an email to me, “Here is a new one for you. Dress to the nines.”

As usual, I tried hard to think about what it would mean but could not think of any good definition of this expression. Can you? What do you think it means?

So, I wrote down, “dress to the 99999999999999999999999”

What the heck this would mean? Why nine? What about 8 or 7?

Every time I think about these expressions, I do some extensive researches and this time Tami helped me out. Out of a few different ones, I personally like this one because it is simple and makes me to remember this expression better.

Well, nine is considered the perfect number – in numerology, etc – so, 9 could be used to mean dress really nicely.

So, I just gave you the definition of the expression. I guess people dress to the nines on Easter here in the U.S.

In addition to that, here is another one Tami told me.

When I was young…er…- my Mom, who is English – used this phrase regularly – when I would attend some pageant functions, I would ask her opinion on what to wear – she has great fashion sense- and she would suggest getting “dressed to the hilt!!

Tami also told me that “dressed to the hilt” originated from the United Kingdom when on formal royal occasions, royalties and other monarchies wore Court Dress with gilt hilt” ; so when they say , you are dressed to the hilt, it means you are dressed like royalty ready to attend a royal occasion – in short, you are well dressed.

Aha… awesome to know these ones. I will use this expression on Easter next year to my friends. “Hey, I dressed to the hilt today. Do you like my suit?”

You should try too. Now, my next question is “Can I dress to the eights?” I think my usual dress code is “dressed to the ones.” 🙂

Oh.. I almost forgot. How about your wedding? You did dress to the nines and nine.nines? Right?

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!

23 Aug


Who taught: Tami



Today’s expression is hot. Very hot! Today was the last day of the orientation for new students of the program where I teach. After everything is done with the orientation, we had lunch together. My colleague, Tami, told me this expression, slumlord. When she first said, the first thing that came to my mind was a lord of a slum. As you may know, a slum is a neighborhood or district where poor people live and thus nothing is really managed properly.

That made me guess that a slumlord is a boss of a slum gang. Well, I was not quite right.

Just like South Korea, people, especially students, rent a room or a house in the U.S. And, a person who owns a house that you are renting is your landlord.

Now, you take only “lord” part from landlord and combine it with “slum” where most houses are falling apart.

Houses in the U.S. are pretty old and if you do not manage them well enough, they can fall apart very quickly in a way that it is like a house in a slum.

Some landlords buy a lot of houses and rent them to make profit. In attempting to maximize their profit, some of them  do nothing to manage their houses. Hence, they are getting more and more similar to houses in a slum.

In fact, there are some neighborhoods in Pittsburgh where you can see those kind of houses and there is always a sign in front of those houses, “For Rent.”

There is one house in my neighborhood and that house does not look good at all. I would be very uncomfortable living in that house.

I want to find out who is the slumlord owning that house. He should do some work on that house.

Oh, actually, this word reminds me of one of my old posts, “Robber Barons.”

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!

15 May

[Series 2] a story about sandwich

Who taught: Tami

Eggs Benedict (source: http://www.thekneadforbread.com/)

About a month ago, Tami and I went to New York City for a biz trip to visit some start-up companies. It was very exciting to see all of these small companies with big ideas growing very fast. We could feel it. After a busy day, we walked to a restaurant near the World Financial Center for dinner. Fortunately, there was a film festival going on at the same time so that we could ‘sort of’ watch a movie as we were sitting in the restaurant.

So, time to order food which is always tricky. It’s been 6 years for me to be here in the U.S. But ordering food is not that easy. I gotta really pay attention to a waiter or waitress when he or she talks about today’s menu. Anyway, we saw one interesting item on the menu. I cannot remember its exact name but I think it was like “mile high lobster sandwich.”  Hey.. speaking of “mile high,” do you remember “mile-high club” that I posted two years ago? You should check it out. Initially, we thought that sandwich is related with this expression, mile high club. But, we need to confirm. So, Tami decided to ask what it is. Our waitress started to explain and she said something like this, “It is basically open-face sandwich with a lot of vegetables and lobster meat.”

At that moment, I was able to understand what open-face means. How about you? Can you get it, my friends? It is also called “open sandwich.”

It is a sandwich that has a single slice of bread at the bottom and put a lot of food items on top of it. A good example is eggs benedict. Do you know what eggs benedict is? You should totally try it. It is mostly considered as brunch food and delicious.

So, here is how I feel about this expression. Basically, all of the items you put inside a sandwich are your eyes, nose, lips and even hairs. Olives can be eyes and lettuce can be hairs. But, if you put another slice of bread on top of all of those, then you are closing your face. If not, your face is open so that we can all see it.

Hey, what can be considered to be nose? Any idea?