Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories. On this show, we explore the origins and usage of common expressions in American English.

    During September in the United States — and in many places around the world — children are going back to school.

    Even if your school days have long passed, you may remember this time of the year well: the smell of books and pencils, the sound of your footsteps as you enter a strange classroom, the nervous feeling in your stomach as you meet your new teacher.

    Naturally, we all want to do well in school and life. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. So, today we are going to talk about both. The expressions you will hear in today's program are commonly used in a classroom. But, they can also be used in other situations.

    Let's start with the bad situations first.

    Now, as you probably know, a bomb is something that blows things up. In American slang, when something bombs, it fails completely. So, if you fail a test, you bombed it.

    We also often use "bomb" this way when talking about movies, plays or performing. For example, if a comedian is on stage telling jokes but no one is laughing, you can say his jokes are bombing. Afterward, if you are feeling very mean, you could say to him, "Wow, you really bombed."

    Now, let's say nobody goes to the new superhero movie, you can say it bombed at the box office. The box office is where people buy their movie tickets. In this case, they were buying tickets for a dud or a flop. These two words are often used to describe a form of entertainment that failed in its purpose -- to entertain.
    现在,让我们假设没人去看新的超级英雄电影,你可以说它的票房惨败(bombed at the box office)。票房(售票处)是指人们买票的地方。在这个例子中,他们是在买票看一场没价值或失败的电影。这两个词通常用于描述某种娱乐活动未能达到娱乐目的。

    Even a party that bombs can be called a dud or a flop. And if a class you are taking is boring or useless, you could call it a "a real dud."
    即使是一场糟糕的聚会也可以使用a dud或a flop。如果你上的课程非常无聊或者毫无用处,你可以称之为“a real dud。”

    Now, let's go back to bombing.

    Please take note that when the word "bomb" is a verb, it means to fail.

    As a slang expression, however, "the bomb" often describes something really good. For example, if a high school student wears a new pair of sneakers to school, his friends could say, "Those shoes are the bomb!" That means they are great -- in a cool, awesome kind of way.
    然而,作为俚语表达,“the bomb”通常用于描述一些很棒的东西。例如,如果一名高中学生穿着一双新运动鞋去上学,他的朋友可能会说:“这双鞋帅呆了。”意思是很酷很赞。

    But please be careful: using "the bomb" this way is extremely casual and would not be appropriate to use in a formal situation. For example, let's say your boss wears a new suit to an important meeting. It might not be a good career move to say to her, "That outfit is the bomb! You look awesome!"
    但是请小心:以这种方式使用“the bomb”是非常随意的,不适用于正式情况下使用。例如,假设你的老板穿了新衣服参加一场重要会议,如果跟她说:“这件衣服很赞,你看上去太棒了。”这可能不是一种很好的职业举动。

    And making comments about a bomb at a U.S. airport could get you arrested.

    So, as we said, be careful!

    Now, let's talk about expressions to use when you do something really well.

    Let's say you did well on a test. You got 100% correct. You aced it! You can also say that you passed with flying colors.
    假设你考得很好,达到了100%的准确率。你考了满分!你还可以说你出色地通过了考试(passed with flying colors)。

    The last expression might make you think of a big celebration — like maybe your parents celebrated your passing grade by lighting colorful fireworks.

    But you would be wrong.

    Word experts seem to agree that the expression "to pass with flying colors" comes from the military. In this case, "pass" doesn't mean to succeed, but to travel. And "colors" doesn't mean shades like red or blue, but flags.
    词汇专家似乎认为“to pass with flying colors”这种表达来自于军队。在这种情况下,pass并不是指获得成功,而是指行进。而“colors”不是指红色或蓝色的色调,而是指旗帜。

    According to the website The Phrase Finder, "pass with flying colors" originally describes winning ships sailing into port "with flags flying from all the mastheads." By around 1700, the phrase was being used to describe any kind of victory.
    The Phrase Finder网站称,“pass with flying colors”最初是指获胜船只航行进入港口,所有桅顶上旗帜飘扬。到了1700年左右,这句短语被用于描述任何一种胜利。

    That means you can use "pass with flying colors" when you are being graded on a test or course, but also in a situation that is out of your control -- such as a medical exam.
    这意味着你通过某门考试或课程时,你可以使用“pass with flying colors。”但是在某些你无法控制的情况下也能使用这句表达,例如体检。

    Let's say you are nervously waiting in a doctor's exam room for the results of a blood test. The doctor may come in and say, "Don't worry! I'm looking at the results of your blood test and you passed with flying colors!" It's not as if you studied for your blood test and then did well on it. So, this is the doctor's way of being lighthearted or funny.

    And that brings us to the end of this Words and Their Stories! We here at VOA Learning English hope you pass your next exam with flying colors — or at least we hope you don't bomb on your next project!
    以上就是本期词汇掌故节目的全部内容。美国之音全体工作人员祝愿你下次考试顺利通过-- 至少我们希望你下个课题不要搞砸了。

    I'm Anna Matteo.