13 January, 2018
Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.
On this program we discuss the meaning and usage of common expressions in American English.
The world can be a cold, cold place.
Sometimes the environment is figuratively cold, meaning not cold in temperature but rather cold in feeling. People can be mean. Work can be thankless. Living conditions can be hard.
And sometimes the world is literally cold.
Temperatures drop. Snow falls from the clouds and sticks to the ground. Ice covers sidewalks and roads. Bitterly cold wind stings your face.
Whether your world feels literally or figuratively cold, our program today will give you the language to find comfort and warmth!
First, let's talk about our first protection against the cold -- clothing.
When the weather is cold, it is important to wear the right clothing. Warm clothes -- a good coat, hat, scarf, and gloves -- can make all the difference. In fact, I've read that Swedish people have this expression: "There is no bad weather only bad clothing."
So, when it's cold outside, you need to bundle up! This phrasal verb means to dress warmly. Being underdressed in cold weather can be unpleasant or even dangerous.
Parents often tell children to bundle up as advice. "Make sure to bundle up! It's really cold today." Babies bundled up in soft blankets are warm, protected and very cute!
After a day out in the cold world, it feels good to come home and change out of your day clothes. Putting on something comfortable, like pajamas, can warm both the body and soul.
When we use "comfortable" to describe things like clothing or furniture, we sometimes shorten it to just comfy. For example, "This sweater is so comfy!" or "Your couch is very comfy."
Now, a simple pleasure on a cold, winter day is to sit close to a warm fire. If you are lucky enough to be sitting by a fire, wearing comfy clothes, and drinking a cup of hot chocolate, you could say comfy-cozy, toasty-roasty. This sounds like part of a children's song, but it is just a way of saying you are warm and comfortable.
If you're really lucky, you have someone to cozy up with. To cozy up to someone means to get physically close to them. Another word for this is to snuggle. After a bad day, it can be warm and comforting to cozy up with a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or even your loyal dog or cat.
But this expression has another meaning.
To cozy up to someone can mean to start a friendship with someone or simply be nice to them in an attempt to get something. In order to get something you want, you are nice and extra friendly.
Let's hear it used in this example.
A: Matthew has been so nice to me recently. It's strange. I didn't think he liked me.
B: He heard that you will be deciding who goes overseas to work on that big project. So, he's cozying up to you.
A: Oh. That explains the box of chocolates he gave me!
So, people can cozy up to others to try to get something they want but so can industries. You may hear "cozy up" when talking about the attempt to influence government officials. For example, to get favorable laws passed, lobbyists may cozy up to lawmakers.
Another way we say this is to get cozy (with someone.) You might hear it used this way. "I see you've been getting cozy with the coach lately. Worried about your position on the team, are you?"
Now, even though big business and lawmakers often cozy up with each other, we would not describe either of them as warm-and-fuzzy. (Sometimes this word combination is hyphenated. Sometimes it is not.)
Something that feels really good after escaping the cold is something warm-and-fuzzy. Fuzzy describes something very soft to the touch – like a puppy or a kitten.
So, warm-and-fuzzy clothing can comfort you after dealing with literal cold. But something warm-and-fuzzy can also protect you against figurative cold. For example, a movie can be warm-and-fuzzy. This means it makes you feel good when you watch it.
However, we also use this expression to describe someone or something that is really cold or unfeeling. As we said earlier, lobbyists and lawmakers usually aren't warm-and-fuzzy.
Let's hear how it is used in another example:
A: "Your roommate sure isn't the warm and fuzzy type, is she?"
B: "No, she's not. Last week when I had a cold, she told me not to sneeze so loudly."
A: "Now, that's cold."
After a bad day -- either a cold or hot one -- many of us just want to get home and escape.
My perfect way to escape would be change into my comfy-cozy pajamas, sink into my comfy couch and curl up in front of a fire to watch a warm-and-fuzzy movie.
"To curl up" means to make your body into the shape of a ball to keep warm, as a kitten would. Is there anything cuter than a fuzzy, baby animal curling up by its mother? I don't think so.
To escape a cold world, you may want to curl up with a cup of hot tea and our next Words and Their Stories.
I'm Anna Matteo.
After a bad day in the cold world, how do you find comfort? Practice using the language you heard here. Or practice using "cozy up" to write about people trying to get something they want. You can do both ... in the Comments Section.
Big old cups of steaming cider
Fall asleep by a cozy fire
It's the warm and fuzzy time of year
Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. The song at the end is Billy Gilman singing "Warm and Fuzzy."
Words in This Story
figuratively – adv. using words not in their normal literal meaning but in a way that makes a description more interesting or impressive
literally – adv. with the meaning of each individual word given exactly
sting – v. to prick painfully: such as
comfort – n. a state or situation in which you are relaxed and do not have any physically unpleasant feelings caused by pain, heat, cold, etc.
underdressed – adj. to dress in clothes that are too informal or not warm enough for an occasion
cute – adj. having a pleasing and usually youthful appearance
soul – n. a person's deeply felt moral and emotional nature
slip – v. to lose your balance especially on a slippery surface
snuggle – v. to lie or sit close together in a comfortable position
industry – n. a group of businesses that provide a particular product or service