The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show opens today so William and Helen decide to talk about a gardening-related idiom: 'to nip something in the bud'.
The script for this programme
Helen: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. I'm Helen.
William: Hi, I'm William. Today Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is opening.
Helen: Oh, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – the world's largest flower show! I've seen it on the news before. If only I had a garden!
William: Ah yes, you live in an apartment, don't you Helen?
Helen: Yeah. So William, let me guess, today we are going to do a phrase relating to flowers and gardening?
Helen: So...? What's the phrase?
William: Er... Well, how about... how about... er. No, it's gone. It's no good. I can't think of a phrase right now.
Helen: Oh well. Let's just have a chat instead. I'm tired of learning new phrases anyway.
William: OK. Well, how are you Helen? How are the kids?
Helen: Oh they are both really well. My little boy eats too much chocolate though!
William: Oh really? Well, you want to nip that in the bud.
Helen: Eh? Nip it in the bud?
William: Nip it in the bud. If you nip something in the bud, you stop it before it becomes a problem. Listen to this example from a business context:
Man: The last few deliveries we've had from this company have all had broken parts in them.
Woman: Well, we need to nip that in the bud. Tell them that unless their service improves, we're going to look for another supplier.
Helen: So in that example, the man was complaining about poor service from a supplier. The woman wanted to nip it in the bud.
William: That's right. She wanted to take steps to improve the service before it got even worse.
Helen: So where does this phrase come from William – to nip something in the bud?
Birdsong and music
William: Well, it comes from gardening, actually. A bud is the part of a plant that becomes a flower, a leaf or stem. If you nip something in the bud, you cut the bud off the plant before it has time to grow.
Helen: Oh. That's not very nice.
William: Well, gardening is a tough game, Helen. You have to nip things in the bud sometimes. You also have to kill slugs and snails.
Helen: Eugh! I'm glad I don't have a garden.