to take a leaf out of X’s book – to behave as X does
to turn over a new leaf – To stop doing something that is bad
to squirrel something (usually money or possessions) away – To save money or possessions secretly
not that old chestnut – not that story/joke again!
autumn years – old age
Hello and welcome to the Everyday Language Podcast.
Today is the 1st of September, so I’d like to talk a bit about autumn. In this podcast, I’ll introduce some phrases and idioms which you might hear, if you were in the UK, to do with autumn or that were inspired by autumn.
And I’ll also introduce some facts and interesting things about this season.
Ok, let’s go, well, right some facts about autumn, as well, did you know that autumn is the time that squirrels get busy?
It’s like, what are squirrels? Do you know what squirrels are? They’re, they’re like small animals with, how can I describe them?
Er, okay well squirrels are in the UK, you’ve got red ones, and green ones-grey ones. You don’t have green ones, you’ve got grey squirrels, which are the majority, and you got red squirrels.
And their kind of like…big well much bigger than a hamster, or a mouse, but they’ve got big fluffy tails, and, you know, they’re…I guess, they’re kind of rodents which is like hamsters and gerbils and rats, I guess that they’re that kind of thing.
But you know, anyway, they’re kind of famous in the UK, and kind of a symbol at least the red squirrel is kind of a symbol of the UK.
And then the grey squirrel is the squirrel that came from America and invaded and they’re, they’re the bad ones.
But yeah it’s the time for squirrels, and squirrels are kind of famous because they, they go around outside and they, they collect the nuts, like the acorns and chestnuts and any other wild food they can, and they bury it.
So yeah, it’s the busiest time of year. And according to The Reader’s Digest during the grey squirrel’s fall catching season. When the critters, another word for – small cute thing – critters.
When the squirrels bury nuts and seeds, in hundreds of scattered cache-caches, to serve as emergency winter larders, a typical squirrel shows a 15% increase in the size of its hippocampus.
So the hippocampus is a part of the brain. And that’s-the hippocampus is the memory and emotion centre of the brain.
So it increases 15% in autumn, compared to the rest of the year.
So that’s kind of amazing, so, in, you know, when they’re at their busiest time, getting all this food for, before, before the winter comes, before it gets too cold. You know, their brains actually gets bigger, and that’s kind of amazing, huh?
Ok, so, getting official now, when does autumn actually begin? As I said it’s the first of September, but is the first of September the actual time [autumn begins]?
Okay, so this is again, is from, er, The Reader’s Digest, I think, and it says there are two different dates when autumn could be said to begin,
Autumn, as defined by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, begins on the equinox and solstice.
Which falls on the 22nd or the 23rd of September, however for the purposes of recording climate data, it is important to have set dates that can be compared, meteorological autumn, like, the autumn for meteorologists
– which are people that monitor the weather and the climate system of the Earth – for meteorologists autumn always begins on the 1st of September.
Okay, so, yeah, there’s two…so apparently, there’s two different times when August, autumn is one is the 22nd or 23rd of September, and the other is the 1st of September.
Okay, so it’s commonly said that in North America people say fall instead of autumn, I checked abou-up about this because a lot of people, when I’m teaching English, they’re interested in what’s the difference between British English and American English, or North American English.
So, on the meteorological website of the British government, so it’s coming from the UK, they say this,
“We typically think of fall as the North American version of the word autumn, but it was in fact in widespread usage in England until relatively recently.”
“Originally a shortening of the phrase “fall of the leaf” the phrase was common in England in the 17th century.”
So, kind of the 17th century which is, you know, the 1600’s, kind of relatively recently, you know, if you think that, you know, 400 years ago was relatively recent.
So the word autumn entered English from the French “automne” and didn’t be…forgive me my French is really terrible…
and didn’t become common usage until the 18th century. So you know, the next time someone says, “Hey, only Americans say “Fall and the people in the UK say autumn”.
You can say, “Hey man, you know it was a relatively recent, it was a relative[ly] recent change it was just it was in the 16th century, that UK people used to say that.”
Okay so the last thing, idioms and phrases about autumn, so one was “turn over a new leaf “ that expression means to begin, well typically it means to reform and begin again.
So if someone has done something bad, or he keeps doing bad things, so like, oh yeah I gave up smoking, say I was smoking for five years and then, I gave up, and everyone around me was saying,
“Hey, Mark, you gotta stop smoking”, and then one day I stopped, and then I stopped, for quite a while and it looks like I’ve been successful.
So, you know, my friend might say, “Oh, you know, you know Mark he doesn’t smoke anymore he’s reformed he’s turned over a new leaf”.
So that means like, yeah he’s different, you know when you turn over a new leaf you change your character or your habit.
Or you know, you were doing something bad, and then make yourself better by not doing that thing anymore.
Okay, another one to do with leaf-leaves, because lots idioms to do with autumn are actually to do with leaves or trees, another one is, “take a leaf out of someone’s book”.
So taking a leaf out of someone’s book, is an expression that means try and do as that person does, you know, follow that person’s example.
So if you take a leaf out of someone’s book, it means, ah, you should follow their example.
So for instance, I stopped smoking, and I turned my life around, and you know, I started living healthily and all this stuff. My friend Jack, he’s still smoking, still drinking, still doing lots of unhealthy things, you know, not exercising.
And so Jack’s friend, and my friend, as well, he says, “Hey you should take a leaf out of Mark’s book, you know, stop, stop smoking, stop, like, eating all that junk food.”
Or, or, you could say about another example, yeah the person, like your boss – he’s always on time, and you’re always not on time. And then, er, someone else at your work says, “You should be like the boss he’s always on time, at work you should take a leaf out of his book.”
And the last one is to squirrel something away.
So those damn squirrels again they come back. Er, and what are they doing? Well, what does it mean to squirrel something away?
To squirrel, hmm, doesn’t mean, like, turn into a squirrel? Or, like, jump around and collect nuts and stuff?
It kind of, means something like that. It means to hide or store something away for future.
So you can say, “Mary squirrelled away a lot of money, while she was busy working for all those years, and now she’s got a nice life.”
It’s also used in, er, in the newspapers quite a lot, this expression about, like, corrupt powerful people. Like the president of so and so country, they squirrelled away lots of money from the people, and they stole it, and then they ran away.
So if you squirrel something away, it means you, you kind of save it, or you, you hide it, it’s not just saving, it’s like hiding the things that you’ve got, and storing it somewhere.
So kind of like, like what squirrels do in the autumn, you know, they squirrel away all the acorns and other nuts for their winter.
Ok, I kind of said that was the last one but it’s not true, there’s a few more, few more important ones.
One is like the autumn years, “He or she is in the autumn of their life”. So what does that mean? It means that in the later years of someone’s life.
So, oh…who’s getting old now?
Well, the Queen? You could say, maybe the Queen, the Queen’s in her autumn years, she’s already, she’s already quite old, right? Over 90? No, no, over 80? Can’t remember, anyway I’m not sure how old the, the Queen is but she’s in the autumn of her life-her years.
Which means, you know, they’re in their later years
You can also say about that person Jimmy is in the autumn of his youth which means Jimmy is soon to be an adult; he’s in the autumn of his youth, so he’s in the last stage of his youth.
So that’s a good one, as, so autumn can be kind of used, er, instead of late in some contexts especially with years, okay.
And then, okay, last one definitely, the last one of the idioms is old chestnut so you might hear this especially if you’re talking to locals in the UK, if someone says to you, “Oh, not that old chestnut”.
That means, they, the person’s saying, “Oh no, not that again”. So if you’re trying to tell a joke, and you think you’ve got a brilliant joke to tell someone and to tell your friends, you go,
“Yeah, yeah I’ve got this brilliant joke, you’ve gotta hear it, and you start speaking, “du du du du du du, so a man he comes up and he knocks on the door…”, and your friend goes, “you know not that old chestnut,” [meaning] like, “don’t tell me that old joke again”,
It kind of means that they’ve heard it before and yeah, they’re not really interested.
Or, they’re just trying to summarise like “Not that old chestnut, not that one again, like, I kind of, know about it”
okay so that’s: old chestnut; to squirrel, to squirrel something away, to take a leaf out of someone’s book to turn over a new leaf, and autumn years.
Okay, so that’s today’s, today’s podcast on the 1st of September 2017. Hopefully, I’m going to make some-a transcript of this, may take a bit of time.
In the meantime, I hope this has been useful, if you want to leave me a comment, to talk about your own experiences of autumn or ask about anything, that you’ve heard me talk about, please leave a comment in the comment section below and I’ll try and get back to you soon as possible.
Ok, once again thanks for listening, and see you next time, bye.
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Thank you, Setuniman, and Tristan Lohengrin.
Intro music: Happy by Setuniman. See his work on Pond5.com. Used here on a Royalty-free licence.
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- Dudududududu – this is a kind of blah, blah, blah, like phrase that I use to mean, “quickly lots of things are said here but they’re not that important”. ↑
- “A man comes and knocks on the door” is a genre of jokes in English. These types of jokes are usually for kids. ↑