I'm Susan Clark with WORDS AND THEIR STORIES, a program in Special English on the Voice of America.
Almost every language in the world has a saying that a person can never be too rich.
Americans, like people in other countries, always want more money. One way they express this is by protesting that their jobs do not pay enough. A common expression is, "I am working for chickenfeed." It means working for very little money. The expression probably began because seeds fed to chickens made people think of small change. Small change means metal coins of not much value, like nickels which are worth five cents.
An early use of the word chickenfeed appeared in an American publication in nineteen thirty. It told about a rich man and his son. Word expert Mitford Mathews says it read, "I'll bet neither the kid nor his father ever saw a nickel or a dime. They would not have been interested in such chickenfeed."
Chickenfeed also has another interesting meaning known to history experts and World War Two spies and soldiers.
Spy expert Henry S. A. Becket writes that some German spies working in London during the war also worked for the British. The British government had to make the Germans believe their spies were working. So, British officials gave them mostly false information. It was called chickenfeed.
The same person who protests that he is working for chickenfeed may also say, "I am working for peanuts." She means she is working for a small amount of money.
It is a very different meaning from the main one in the dictionary. That meaning is small nuts that grow on a plant.
No one knows for sure how a word for something to eat also came to mean something very small. But, a peanut is a very small food.
The expression is an old one. Word expert Mitford Mathews says that as early as eighteen fifty-four, an American publication used the words peanut agitators. That meant political troublemakers who did not have a lot of support.
Another reason for the saying about working for peanuts may be linked to elephants. Think of how elephants are paid for their work in the circus. They receive food, not money. One of the foods they like best is peanuts.
When you add the word gallery to the word peanut you have the name of an area in an American theater. A gallery is a high seating area or balcony above the main floor.
The peanut gallery got its name because it is the part of the theater most distant from where the show takes place. So, peanut gallery tickets usually cost less than other tickets. People pay a small amount of money for them.
This Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES, was written by Jeri Watson. This is Susan Clark.
1.chickenfeed n. 微不足道的数目
I was making a million a year, but that's chickenfeed in the pop business.
2.nickel n. 镍；镍币；五分镍币 vt. 镀镍于
Nickel can be used for making coins.
3.agitator n. 搅拌器；鼓动者；煽动者
Mona had watched him grow into an arrogant political agitator.
1.The expression probably began because seeds fed to chickens made people think of small change.
feed to 用…喂…；向…提供…； 向(某人)提供(情报、信息等)：
Farmers feed hay to the cows.
Reporters all over the world feed the news to the TV stations.
美国人和其他国家的人一样，通常也想拥有更多金钱。美国人表达这一欲望的一种方式是抗议他的工资太低了 。常用的一句话是“我为chickenfeed而工作”，意思就是我为挣点鸡食工作 。这一表达可能源自于鸡食会令人们想到零钱 。零钱就是那种不值钱的金属钱币，比如面值5美分的镍币 。
这个词的早期用法出现在20世纪的美国出版业，讲述了一个富人和他的儿子的故事。文字专家密第福特·马修斯说，这个词是这样出现的 “我打赌这个男孩和他的父亲都没见过一角或五分的硬币，因为他们不会在意这种小钱” 。
这一表达历史悠久。文字专家密第福特·马修斯说，早在1854年，一家美国出版社就使用过 peanut agitators （卑鄙的煽动者）这个词汇，用来指那些得不到支持的政治捣乱者 。
另一个为花生工作这一说法的原因可能与大象有关。想想大象为马戏团工作获得的是什么报酬吧 。他们得到食物，而不是钱，其中一种他们最喜欢的食物就是花生 。