Now it’s time for Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English. On this program we explore expressions used in American English.
People who visit our website or listen to our broadcasts want to learn English. They come freely. No one is forcing them.
That’s right. In other words, no one is twisting their arms.
Exactly. Having your arm twisted hurts. It gets pulled in the wrong direction. Wrestlers know this. That is why in the sport of wrestling, twisting an opponent’s arm is a good way to gain control.
One definition of "twist" is to bend or turn something into a shape or position that is not normal. If you do that to your arm, or any part of the body, it can hurt a lot. So, if you are wrestling with someone and twist their arm, your opponent may likely give up. You would be the winner.
The expression to twist someone’s arm means to force someone to do what you want. You put pressure on them.
Several websites say this term first became popular back in the middle of the 1900s. It meant using physical force to get something done.
These days, it can mean using something other than physical strength. You do not have to be stronger than someone else to effectively twist their arm. If a small child wants to go to the store, she can twist your arm into taking her. She just will not take “no” for an answer. She asks and asks until you give up!
如今，它可以指使用除体力之外的其他东西。你不需要比别人强壮就能有效地说服他们（twist their arm）。如果一个小孩想去商店，她可以说服你（twist your arm）带她去。无论你怎么拒绝，她都不接受。她不停地问，直到你放弃!
People who are good at selling products or raising money are usually skilled at twisting other people’s arms.
Let’s say you want to raise money for a cause that you care about -- saving the rain forest, for example. Because the issue is important to you, you do not mind twisting arms to get others to donate money.You email your friends. You start up an online campaign to raise as much money as you can. But you don’t stop there. You throw a party where you look people in the eye and ask for money. They might say, "You don’t need to twist my arm.Saving the rain forest is important! Here’s my donation of $200!"
With a few small changes, twisting someone’s arm can become a noun. If someone is good at arm-twisting, they are good at persuading others to do what they want. We can say they are skilled in the art of persuasion.
We have other expressions for making someone do what you want.
You can also strong-arm them. This term is similar to arm-twisting. It suggests that you are stronger, or are in a stronger position. So, you can get others to do what you want.
However, we often use arm-twisting in a lighthearted way. But not so much with “strong-arm.” More often than not, we don’t use strong-arm in a nice way. Bullies are good at strong-arming people.Besides, “bully,” two other common verbs that mean “strong-arm” are intimidate and coerce.
When used as an adjective, strong-arm goes before a noun. For example, a man used strong-arm methods to get what he wanted.
Now, if arm-twisting or strong-arming does not work for you, you can always try putting the squeeze on someone else. When you squeeze something, you add pressure to it. For example, when you squeeze oranges, you press down on the fruit for its juice. So, when you put the squeeze on others, you pressure them to do what you want.
现在，如果施压（arm-twisting）和暴力压迫（strong-arming）都不适合你，你可以试着给别人施加压力（putting the squeeze on someone else）。当你挤压（squeeze）东西的时候，你给它加压。例如，当你挤压橙子时，就会挤出橙汁。所以，当你对别人施加压力时（put the squeeze on others），你迫使他们做你想做的事。
Some people are not good at arm-twisting, strong-arming or putting the squeeze on others. If you are like one of them, you may want to try a more subtle method of persuasion.
Your personal belief is, "you get more bees with honey than vinegar." This means when you are nice or sweet like honey to people, they are more likely to help you. If your words are sharply acidic like vinegar, they may just turn away.
你个人的信念是：“蜂蜜比醋多（you get more bees with honey than vinegar）。”这意味着当你对别人友善或像蜂蜜一样甜美时，人们更有可能帮助你。如果你的话语像醋一样呈强烈的酸性，人们可能就会把你拒之门外。
You would rather sweet-talk or coax someone into doing what you want. These are both nice, subtle ways to twist someone’s arm.
Here at VOA Learning English, we don’t need to use any of these methods. English learners seek us out.
This is better than trying to force English on someone. If you have to twist someone’s arm to learn something, chances are they won’t.
And that’s Words and Their Stories for this week. I’m Anna Matteo.And I’m Bryan Lynn.