Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
Different people have different ways of saying things -- their own special expressions.
Each week we tell about some popular American expressions.
The bag is one of the most simple and useful things in the world. It is a container made of paper or cloth. It has given the world many strange expressions that are not very simple. Some of them are used in the United States today.
One is "bagman." It describes a go-between. The go-between sees to it that money is passed -- often illegally -- from one person to another.
Cat relaxes on his human's desk (Steve Ember/VOA)
Another widely-used expression is to "let the cat out of the bag." It is used when someone tells something that was supposed to be secret. No one can explain how the cat got into the bag. But there is an old story about it...
Long ago tradesmen sold things in large cloth bags. One day a woman asked for a pig. The tradesman held up a cloth bag with something moving inside it. He said it was a live pig. The woman asked to see it. When the dishonest tradesman opened the bag, out jumped a cat -- not a pig. The tradesman's secret was out. He was trying to trick her. And now everybody knew it.
The phrase to be left holding the bag is as widely used as the expression to let the cat out of the bag.
This expression makes the person left holding the bag responsible for an action, often a crime or misdeed. That person is the one who is punished. The others involve in the act escape.
Where the expression came from is not clear. Some say that General George Washington used it during the American Revolutionary War.
One of Washington's officers, Royall Taylor, used the expression in a play about Daniel Shay's rebellion. The play was in seventeen eighty-seven, after Taylor helped to put down Shay's rebellion.
Shays led a thousand war veterans in an attack on a federal building in Springfield, Massachusetts. Guns were in the building. Some of the protesters were farmers who had no money to buy seed. Some had been put in prison for not paying their debts. They were men who fought one war against the king of England, and were now prepared to fight against their own government. Most of the rebels were captured. Shays and some of the officers escaped.
In his play, Taylor describes Shays as disappearing, giving others "the bag to hold."
A bag is useful in many ways. Just be careful not to let the cat out of the bag, or someone may leave you holding the bag.
You have been listening to the VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES. This is Bob Doughty.
1.go-between n. 媒人；中间人；媒介者
He will act as a go-between to try and work out an agenda.
2.trick vt. 欺骗；哄骗；装饰；打扮
Stephen is going to be pretty upset when he finds out how you tricked him.
3.misdeed n. 罪行；犯罪
I was to blame in part for this misdeed.
4.rebellion n. 叛乱；反抗；谋反；不服从
The government soon put down the rebellion.
1.It is used when someone tells something that was supposed to be secret.
supposed to be 本应如此
Journalists are supposed to be politically neutral.
I was supposed to be writing a letter but I'm afraid I got sidetracked.
2.The play was in seventeen eighty-seven, after Taylor helped to put down Shay's rebellion.
put down 镇压；记下；贬低；制止
Soldiers went in to put down a rebellion.
The judge ordered their dog Samson to be put down immediately.
另一个非常通用的表达是let the cat out of the bag，用来指讲些秘密的事，没人能解释为何猫会进入袋子，但有这么一个古老的故事...
很久以前商人用大的布袋子卖东西，一天一位妇女想要一头猪，商人就拿起一个布袋子，里面似乎装着会动的东西。他说那里有一头生猪，妇女想看一看 。当这个不诚实的商人打开袋子后，里面跳出来一只猫，而不是一头猪 。商人的秘密泄露了，他原想欺骗她 。现在人人都知道这点了 。
to be left holding the bag这个表达和let the cat out of the bag一样应用广泛。
谢伊带领1000名老兵袭击了马塞诸塞州斯普林菲尔德联邦大楼。枪支是在这座楼里，有的抗议者是没钱买种子的农民，有的因无力偿债而入狱，这些人曾与英格兰国王作战过，如今准备与自己的政府为战 。大多数叛军被捕了，谢伊和一些军官逃跑了 。