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WORDS AND THEIR STORIES - Feel The Pinch

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Feel the Pinch / Up Against It / Throw in the Towel
Feel the Pinch / Up Against It / Throw in the Towel

I'm Susan Clark with the Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

In the nineteen thirties, a song, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," was very popular in the United States. It was the time of the big Depression. The song had meaning for many people who had lost their jobs.

A dime is a piece of money whose value is one-tenth of a dollar. Today, a dime does not buy much. But it was different in the nineteen thirties. A dime sometimes meant the difference between eating and starving.

The American economy today is much better. Yet, many workers are concerned about losing their jobs as companies re-organize.

Americans have special ways of talking about economic troubles. People in businesses may say they feel the pinch. Or they may say they are up against it. Or, if things are really bad, they may say they have to throw in the towel.

A pinch is painful pressure. To feel the pinch is to suffer painful pressure involving money.

The expression, feel the pinch, has been used since the sixteenth century. The famous English writer William Shakespeare wrote something very close to this in his great play "King Lear."

King Lear says he would accept necessity's sharp pinch. He means he would have to do without many of the things he always had.

Much later, the Times of London newspaper used the expression about bad economic times during the eighteen sixties. It said, "so much money having been spent ... All classes felt the pinch."

Worse than feeling the pinch is being up against it. The saying means to be in a lot of trouble.

Word expert James Rogers says the word "it" in the saying can mean any and all difficulties. He says the saying became popular in the United States and Canada in the late nineteenth century. Writer George Ade used it in a book called "Artie." He wrote, "I saw I was up against it."

Sometimes a business that is up against it will have to throw in the towel. This means to accept defeat or surrender.

Throwing in the towel may mean that a company will have to declare bankruptcy. The company will have to take legal steps to let people know it has no money to pay its debts.

Word expert Charles Funk says an eighteen seventy-four publication called the Slang Dictionary explains throwing in the towel. It says the words probably came from the sport of boxing, or prizefighting. The book says the saying began because a competitor's face was cleaned with a cloth towel or other material. When a boxer's towel was thrown, it meant he was admitting defeat.

Most businesses do not throw in the towel. They just re-organize so they can compete better.

(MUSIC)

This WORDS AND THEIR STORIES was written by Jeri Watson. I'm Susan Clark.

网友的学习评论(16条):
作者:sunflower
feel the pitch.
作者:Jefferson Liu
Confronted with financial crisis,some little companies feel the pintch,some are up against it,but none will throw in the towel easily.
作者:博文009
I was feel the pitch when I losed my job. this time I did up against it. my family has to throw in the towel.
作者:gracenessgay
I feel the pinch when I need to spending too much.
作者:dio
I alway feel the pitch ,because i alway spent much than i plant .we shoud cntrol ourself and don't allow us spent too much .we should be insited on our dream and throw in the towel.I believe we will succeed that one day .
作者:akhx66
I feel a pinch!
作者:muddy water
up against it, feel the pinch, throw in the towel.
作者:saolijie
I feel the pinch strongly at present,because all my relatives are poor,mother was sick seriously,sister unemployeeed,nephew was unmarried nearly 30 years,I always paid them money,I was up against it, I threw in the towel
作者:May
Dear husband ,I don't know whether we feel the pinch or not. But when I want to swipe our credit card, there is no money in it. Dear wife,you throw us in the towel. But we aren't up against it, we also have our salary for next month.
作者:englisher
I feel the pinch because i have to pay the debt for house, but i can't throw in the towel.
作者:Lestrade
feel in pitch
作者:Ada.jiang
I feel a little the pinch when i buy expensive goods.
作者:aoshiding
I feel in pitch and have to pay the debt every month, However, I firmly believe that my constant endeavour is deem to conquer my poverty.
作者:yingley
feel the pinch? not so bad
作者:米暖
I feel the pinch this month ,for i lost my job.
作者:dragonfly
so set aside some money in case you feel the pinch some day. when you are up against it, don't easily throw yourseld in the towel and try hard to find a way out.
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