To get information in Spanish place the arrow of your mouse on the highlighted words without clicking.
Para obtener información en español acerca la flecha de tu ratón a las palabras o frases resaltadas.


Source: Voice of America


Now, the VOA Special English program "Words and Their Stories".


Today, we tell about "horse" expressions. In the past, many people depended on horses for transportation, farming and other kinds of work. A lot of people still like to ride horses. And horse racing is also popular. So it is not surprising that Americans still use expressions about the animals.

today we tell about: hoy hablamos de; depended on: dependía de; farming: agricultura, labranza; kinds of: tipos de; still like to ride: todavía les gusta cabalgar; horse racing: las carreras de caballos; it is not surprising that: no sorprende que, no llama la atención que; still use: sigan utilizando;


Long ago, people who were rich or important rode horses that were very tall. Today, if a girl acts like she is better than everyone else, you might say she should "get off her high horse".

who were rich: que eran adinerados; rode: cabalgaban, montaban; very tall: muy altos; acts like she is: se comporta como siendo; better than everyone else: la mejor de todos/as; get off her high horse: bajarse/apearse del burro, bajarse de la parra, bajarse del pedestal (en Argentina, solemos decir "aterrizar");


Yesterday, my children wanted me to take them to the playground. But I had to finish my work, so I told them to "hold your horses" – wait until I finish what I am doing. My two boys like to compete against each other and play in a violent way. I always tell them to stop "horsing around" or someone could get hurt.

playground: parque con juegos infantiles; hold your horses: aguantarse, tener paciencia; in a violent way: en forma violenta; wait until: esperar hasta que; horse around/about: retozar, juguetear, bromear; could get hurt: podría lastimarse;



We live in a small town. It does not have any exciting activities to offer visitors. My children call it a "one-horse town".

exciting activities: actividades emocionantes, entretenidas; one-horse town: pueblucho, pueblo de poca monta, poco interesante;


Last night, I got a telephone call while I was watching my favorite television show. I decided not to answer it because "wild horses could not drag me away" from the televisionthere was nothing that could stop me from doing what I wanted to do.

wild horses could not drag me away: por nada del mundo me apartarían (literal = ni unos caballos salvajes podrían alejarme del televisor).


Sometimes you get information "straight from the horse's mouth". It comes directly from the person who knows most about the subject and is the best source. Let us say your teacher tells you there is going to be a test tomorrow. You could say you got the information "straight from the horse's mouth". However, you would not want to call your teacher a horse!

straight from the horse's mouth: de propia boca, de labios del mismo interesado (literal = directamente de la boca del caballo); who knows most: que más sabe; about the subject: sobre el tema; the best source: la mejor fuente; let us say: digamos que; to call your teacher a horse: decirle caballo a tu profesor;


You may have heard this expression: "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink". That means you can give someone advice but you cannot force him to do something he does not want to do.

you may have heard: debes haber escuchado; you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink: puedes darle un consejo a alguien, pero no puedes obligarlo a que lo siga.(literal = puedes llevar un caballo al agua pero no puedes obligarlo a beber); force him to do something: obligarlo a hacer algo (que);


Sometimes a person fights a battle that has been decided or keeps arguing a question that has been settled. We say this is like "beating a dead horse".

fight a battle: pelear, entrar en pleito; keeps arguing a question: sigue discutiendo un asunto; that has been settled: que ya ha sido resuelto; this is like: esto es algo así como; beat a dead horse: seguir hablando de algo que ya pasó de tiempo, debatir sobre un asunto que se terminó; perder el tiempo en algo que no saldrá a cabo (literal = azotar a un caballo muerto);


In politics, a "dark-horse candidate" is someone who is not well known to the publicSometimes, a dark horse unexpectedly wins an election.

a dark-horse candidate: un candidato que surge como presidente de la mañana a la noche, un "ilustre desconocido"; dark horse: contendiente o ganador desconocido; vencedor inesperado; persona que puede dar una sorpresa en una competición; unexpectedly wins: gana inesperadamente;


Another piece of advice is "do not change horses in midstream". You would not want to get off one horse and on to another in the middle of a river. Or make major changes in an activity that has already begun. In the past, this expression was used as an argument to re-elect a president, especially during a time when the country was at war.

a piece of advice: un consejo; do not change horses in midstream: no cambies de parecer a mitad de camino (literalmente = no cambies de caballo en el medio del río); to get off one horse: bajarte de un caballo; make major changes: hacer cambios fundamentales; that has already begun: que ya ha comenzado; an argument: un argumento, un alegato; to re-elect: para reelegir; at war: en guerra.


This VOA Special English program was written by Shelley Gollust. I'm Faith Lapidus.

horse sense:
sentido común, buen discernimiento.