Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.
Americans can sometimes begin a sentence with the words “You’re givingme.” This expression usually describes a person’s reaction to a surprise or tosomething unpleasant.
|These women in costumes and face paint may give you the creeps or the willies. Or if you like how they look, they may give you butterflies! (FILE PHOTO)|
First, let’s look at an example from the world of business.
What if you are asked to speak to a group of important customers -- peoplewho depend on your product or services? You prepare for your speech, butyou still have concerns about how you will perform in front of the group.Minutes before the speech, you might tell a friend that you have “the jitters.” This means you are worried. Even experienced performers can get the jitters,especially before a big event.
Creeps, willies and heebie-jeebies -- oh my!
Now, let’s talk about your neighborhood.
What if a stranger lives in a house near your home? The man does not appearnormal. He may talk to himself, and even raise his voice at imaginary things. He makes you very nervous, even fearful. So, you might say “I get the creepsevery time he walks by.” Or you could say, “That guy gives me the creeps.”
The willies are a lot like the creeps. You get the willies when you have anervous feeling, like when you are in a forest and hear something unusual.These sounds give you “the willies.”
Having a nervous feeling can also mean something or someone is giving you“the heebie-jeebies.”.
You might say “I got the heebie-jeebies when I saw him looking at me.” Also, it is a fun word to say - heebie-jeebies.
Goosebumps and butterflies
Sometimes your body shows you what you are feeling in the form of tinybumps on your skin called “goosebumps.”
Goosebumps can appear when you are nervous, excited or even very cold. InAmerican English, you might say “I get goosebumps every time I think about it” or “It gives me goosebumps.”
Butterflies are small, often beautiful insects. But theycan also be a nervous feeling you get in your stomach,often before a performance of some kind.
You might say “I am looking forward to playing, but Imust admit I’ve got butterflies in the pit of my stomach.”
Sometimes, when a person likes another personromantically, they may say she or he gives thembutterflies. They are excited at the thought of being withthat person.
Finally, some Americans, when frightened, may use the expression, “youalmost gave me a heart attack!” But they are not really having a heart attack.They just mean they were so scared that their heart might have stoppedbeating. A mother who sees her child fall from a tree might say the experience“almost gave me a heart attack!” In other words, the fall frightened her verybadly.
So if someone says they have the jitters, try to help them calm down. Tellthem to take a few deep breaths.
If you are told you are giving someone the creeps or the willies or theheebie-jeebies, it might be a good time to consider making some changes.Try not to be so unusual.
If a person tells you that you give them goosebumps or butterflies, it meansthey like you -- a lot. So, stay the way you are.
In your language how do you say someone is giving you the creeps, or thewillies, or the heebie-jeebies? And do you have things like goosebumps orbutterflies in the stomach? Let us know what these words are in thecomments section!
Christopher Jones-Cruise wrote this report in Learning English.
I’m Anna Matteo.
Christopher Jones-Cruise wrote this report in Learning English. George Growwas the editor. The music at the end of this story is Louie Armstrong singing"Heebie Jeebies."