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  • Hello.

  • This is 6 Minute English

  • from BBC Learning English.

  • I'm Rob.

  • And I'm Sam.

  • Can you wait

  • a second, Rob?

  • I have

  • to spend a penny.

  • What!

  • You're going shopping

  • now, are you?

  • We're just

  • about to start the programme!

  • No, no, I have to ... you

  • know, 'spend a penny'.

  • Haven't you heard that

  • expression before?

  • Spend a

  • penny means 'go to the

  • toilet'.

  • It's an old idiom

  • from the days when it

  • cost a penny to unlock the

  • door of a public toilet.

  • OK, I see.

  • Well, you're

  • showing your age there,

  • Sam - most young people

  • today wouldn't know what

  • that phrase meant, and

  • there aren't many public

  • toilets left

  • nowadays anyway.

  • Language changes fast,

  • and new words and phrases

  • are being created all

  • the time.

  • In this

  • programme, we'll be

  • learning some modern

  • idioms - new expressions

  • that have been introduced

  • to English through the

  • internet, TV and social

  • media.

  • And of course,

  • we'll be learning their

  • meanings a well.

  • Great, I'm 'raring

  • to go' - another idiom

  • there.

  • But first, as

  • usual, I have a question

  • for you, Sam.

  • Many

  • well-known idioms come

  • from the world of sport,

  • for example 'throw in

  • the towel' which means

  • 'give up', or 'surrender'.

  • But which sport does

  • the idiom 'throw in the

  • towel' come from?

  • Is it:

  • a) football?

  • b) tennis?

  • or c) boxing?

  • I think I know this one.

  • It's c) boxing.

  • OK, Sam.

  • I'll reveal

  • the answer at the end

  • of the programme, so

  • just hold your horses

  • for now!

  • Ah, another idiom there,

  • Rob - hold your horses

  • meaning 'stop and think

  • for a moment'.

  • That's an

  • idiom that Gareth Carrol

  • might teach his university

  • students.

  • Dr Carrol is

  • the author of a new book,

  • 'Dropping the Mic and

  • Jumping the Shark: Where

  • Do Modern Idioms Come From?'

  • He became interested in

  • idioms when he realised

  • that he didn't know many

  • of the expressions his

  • students used in their

  • everyday speech, modern

  • idioms like 'jump

  • the shark'.

  • Here is Gareth Carrol

  • telling BBC Radio 4

  • programme, Word of Mouth,

  • about one source of

  • many modern idioms -

  • the movies.

  • So, Groundhog Day I think

  • more or less has the

  • meaning of 'déjà vu' now,

  • and it's completely

  • embedded in the language ...

  • actually, that's probably

  • one of the first phrases

  • that got me thinking about

  • these modern idioms in

  • the first place because

  • it is so ubiquitous,

  • it's used in a huge

  • range of contexts, and

  • one of the things

  • that made me sit up

  • and take notice is,

  • I had a number of

  • students who know the

  • phrase, Groundhog Day,

  • but had no idea

  • it was a film.

  • In the film Groundhog

  • Day, the main character

  • wakes up to live

  • the same day over

  • and over again.

  • Gradually, the movie

  • title itself became

  • an idiom, Groundhog

  • Day, meaning 'a situation

  • in which events that

  • have happened before,

  • happen again in exactly

  • the same way'.

  • It's

  • similar in meaning to

  • another expression -

  • déjà vu.

  • When phrases the movies

  • develop into idioms

  • it's often because

  • they are ubiquitous -

  • they seem to

  • appear everywhere.

  • And one of the ways

  • they appear everywhere

  • is, of course, the

  • internet.

  • Here's

  • Gareth Carrol again,

  • telling more to

  • Michael Rosen,

  • presenter of BBC

  • Radio 4 programme,

  • Word of Mouth.

  • The vocabulary of the

  • internet, even the

  • word 'internet', is

  • relatively modern ...

  • the idea of breaking

  • the internet is

  • now a phrase I think

  • people would use and

  • recognise, so something

  • that causes such a

  • stir online that

  • metaphorically so many

  • people rush to a

  • website that it

  • threatens to bring it

  • down, something

  • like that ...

  • In the early days we

  • had 'go viral' which

  • has stayed with us,

  • hasn't it?

  • Yeah, so the idea of

  • something going viral

  • is certainly very much

  • in the vocabulary

  • now ... But things like

  • Twitter have leant

  • sort of phrases, so

  • the idea of first-world

  • problems, meaning sort