Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
Some unusual words describe how a person spends his or her time. For example, someone who likes to spend a lot of time sitting or lying down while watching television is sometimes called a couch potato. A couch is a piece of furniture that people sit on while watching television.
Robert Armstrong, an artist from California, developed the term couch potato in nineteen seventy-six. Several years later, he listed the term as a trademark with the United States government. Mister Armstrong also helped write a funny book about life as a full-time television watcher. It is called the “Official Couch Potato Handbook.”
Couch potatoes enjoy watching television just as mouse potatoes enjoy working on computers. A computer mouse is the device that moves the pointer, or cursor, on a computer screen. The description of mouse potato became popular in nineteen ninety-three. American writer Alice Kahn is said to have invented the term to describe young people who spend a lot of time using computers.
Too much time inside the house using a computer or watching television can cause someone to get cabin fever. A cabin is a simple house usually built far away from the city. People go to a cabin to relax and enjoy quiet time.
|Couch potatoes enjoy watching television|
Cabin fever is not really a disease. However, people can experience boredom and restlessness if they spend too much time inside their homes. This is especially true during the winter when it is too cold or snowy to do things outside. Often children get cabin fever if they cannot go outside to play. So do their parents. This happens when there is so much snow that schools and even offices and stores are closed.
Some people enjoy spending a lot of time in their homes to make them nice places to live. This is called nesting or cocooning. Birds build nests out of sticks to hold their eggs and baby birds. Some insects build cocoons around themselves for protection while they grow and change. Nests and cocoons provide security for wildlife. So people like the idea of nests and cocoons, too.
The terms cocooning and nesting became popular more than twenty years ago. They describe people buying their first homes and filling them with many things. These people then had children.
Now these children are grown and have left the nest. They are in college. Or they are married and starting families of their own far away. Now these parents are living alone without children in their empty nest. They have become empty nesters.
This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Jill Moss. I’m Faith Lapidus.
couch potato ：用于形容喜欢花大把时间坐着或躺着看电视的人，我们称为“电视迷”，couch指坐卧两用的长沙发，potato指土豆，所以“沙发土豆”实际上是个不折不扣的“电视迷”。
mouse potatoes ：多用来描述那些将大量时间花费在用电脑上的年轻人，可以称作“电脑迷”。
cabin fever ：幽居病（由于缺乏外界刺激而导致的不快或痛苦，如住在一个偏僻的，人烟稀少的地区或一个很小的、封闭的空间里）
empty nest ：照字面意思来看empty nest是空巢。鸟儿筑巢下蛋孵出一窝吱吱喳喳的小鸟。在鸟爸鸟妈的精心哺育下小鸟羽翼丰满就离开父母纷纷飞去独立生活，留下老爸老妈独守空巢，就是empty nest。这个习惯用语常常用来比喻人的生活，用来形容子女长大成人离开老家后父母的落寞感受。
empty nesters ：空巢老人