18 January, 2015
Is it fate that brings us together today?
No, not fate. It is simply time for Words and Their Stories.
Or maybe it is fate. Maybe just this morning you said to someone, "You know, I really wish VOA Learning English would do a show on the word ‘fate.'" And here we are. Now, that would be fate.
Fate is a word that can be hard to understand. Fate, to describe it simply, means that something is meant to be.
Fate is a word that has weight. It has power. When we say sealed one's fate we mean a person has done something that has guaranteed a certain end result -- usually a bad one. Sometimes the result is even a fate worse than death, such as in this example:
A: He totally destroyed his business and now he's going to jail. And for him, prison is a fate worse than death.
B: Well, if he would rather die than go to prison, he should not have stolen that money from his investors. When he did that, he sealed his own fate.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says fate is a "power that is believed to control what happens in the future." In fact, fate is so powerful that people are warned not to tempt fate.
To tempt fate means to do something that involves a risk. Or, it means to be too sure about something. That extreme confidence may cause something unpleasant to happen.
Here is a true story. While on vacation in Thailand I met a woman who tempted fate by swimming around a rocky coastline at night. We warned her that she would not make it. And she didn't. She floated in the ocean all night. A fishing boat rescued her the next morning. She was lucky. Her fate could have much different.
Fate can also change quickly and send your life in a direction you did not plan. When we say something is a twist of fate, we mean something strange or unexpected has happened. But more than that – the outcome was meant, or fated, to happen.
When something goes wrong, we often say it was ill-fated, or doomed from the very start. For instance, the Titanic started its ill-fated journey with much celebration and excitement.
No one thought for a moment that its fate would be to lie at the bottom of the ocean. But by a terrible twist of fate, the great ship hit a huge block of ice in the ocean and quickly sank.
A twist of fate does not always mean something bad is meant to happen. Sometimes fate is romantic. Fate and love often go hand in hand. Many people trust fate when looking for their life partner, their soul mate. Others may use online dating services. This man trusted fate.
A: How did you meet your wife?
B: I met my wife completely by accident. She boarded the wrong airplane and was sitting in my seat. As soon as I saw her ... I can't explain it ... I knew we would be married one day.
A: Hmm. Was it an accident? Or a strange twist of fate?
B: I've never thought about it that way. Maybe I was destined to meet her all along.
Fate may have served that couple well. But sometimes fate leaves a lover out in the cold.
I'm Anna Matteo.
Is there a time when the hand of fate changed the course of your life? Do share ... in the comments section!
Words in This Story
romantic – adj. relating to, or involving love between two people
destined – adj. certain to do or to be something
leave out in the cold – expression to leave someone in a bad position