I'm Susan Clark with the Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
Tom Smith is the best hitter on his company's baseball team. For weeks during the playing season, Tom hit a home run in every game the team played. But then suddenly he stopped hitting home runs. He could not hit the baseball at all.
One day he struck out three times in one game. He said, "I am afraid I am losing it."
Mary Jones bought a dress in a woman's clothing store. She felt very happy about buying the dress until she got home. Then she remembered she had left her credit card at the store when she used it to pay for the dress. It was the third time that month that Mary had forgotten something important.
Mary was angry with herself. She said, "Am I losing it?"
Emma Cleveland was teaching a class in mathematics at a college. She began to explain to the students how to solve a very difficult problem. She understood it very well. But somehow, at that moment, she could not explain it. Emma said, "I must be losing it."
Americans seem to have a lot of concern about losing it. At least that is what you would think from hearing them talk. They use the expression when they feel they are losing control. It can mean losing emotional control. Or losing the ability to do something. Or losing mental powers.
Word experts differ about how the expression started. Some believe it came from television programs popular in the nineteen eighties. Others believe it began with psychologists and psychiatrists who deal with how people think, feel and act.
One psychologist said, "We Americans have many concerns about controlling our lives. Perhaps we worry too much."
She continued, "In many situations, to say you are losing it eases the tension. It is healthy. And most people who say they are having a problem are not losing it."
People may feel more like they are losing it when they are "down in the dumps." People who are down in the dumps are sad. They are depressed.
Word expert Charles Funk says people have been feeling down in the dumps for more than four-hundred years. Sir Thomas More used the expression in fifteen thirty-four. He wrote, "Our poor family ... has fallen in such dumps."
Word experts do not agree what the word dumps means. One expert, John Ayto, says the word dumps probably comes from the Scandinavian countries. The languages of Denmark and Norway both have similar words. The words mean to fall suddenly.
Americans borrowed this saying. And, over the years, it has become a popular way of expressing sadness.
汤姆•史密斯是他所在公司棒球队最出色的击球手。在赛季的数周之内，汤姆在球队的每场比赛中都能打出本垒打， 但是，突然之间他再打不出本垒打了，他连棒球都击不中了 。
玛丽•琼斯在一家女装店买了新衣服。到家前她都为此美滋滋的 。之后她突然想起结账时把信用卡落在服装店了 。这是玛丽这个月第三次遗忘重要物品了 。
美国人似乎非常担忧losing it。至少你听到有人这么说时会这么想 。人们在感到无法控制局面时会用这个词 。它可以表示无法控制情绪，或没有能力做某事，或无法正常思维 。
词汇专家对这一词语的起源持有不同意见。有些人认为它出自20世纪80年代的电视热播节目 。另一些人则认为该词是被心理学家和精神病医生最先使用的，他们研究人们如何思考、感觉和行为 。
人们在处于情绪低谷时可能会更觉得自己无能为力。说人们down in the dumps是说他们难过、消沉 。
词汇专家查尔斯•芬克说，形容人们down in the dumps这一用法已有400多年了。1534年，托马斯先生首次使用了这一词语，他写到，“我们这一贫困家庭的情绪已跌入谷底 。”
词汇专家们对单词dumps的意义持有不同见解。一位词汇专家约翰•艾托认为，dumps这个词可能来自斯堪的纳维亚国家 。丹麦和挪威语均有类似词汇，意思是突然跌落 。