Last updated at 10:57 BST, Wednesday, 16 May 2012

To murder something

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Helen thinks her house is a crime scene until Rob explains the word murder can mean something else. When someone says they could murder for something they are really just saying they are desperate for something to eat or drink.

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The script for this programme

Rob: Hi Helen. I thought I would pop round to talk to you about today's Authentic Real English but …err … it looks like you're busy … what are all these police cars doing here?

Helen: Quick, come in, shut the door….
….now this is very serious. There has been a murder.

Rob: What?

Helen: A murder! I know it's not very nice….but to be honest the police can't find any blood or a body. It's like a murder mystery.

Rob: Hmm, we need to do our own investigation. So what exactly happened?

Helen: Well, my friend came to see me this morning.

Rob: I see.

Helen: And we were having a nice chat when she said I could murder a coffee and then she disappeared and I haven't heard from her since.

Rob: Right. Well Helen, relax, I think she's still alive and everything is ok.

Helen: There's no murder?

Rob: No murder. When people say they could murder something it's an informal way of saying they are starving or thirsty and are desperate to have something to eat or drink.

Helen: But murder is a strong word.

Rob: Yes. It stresses how desperate someone is for something. A direct translation would mean you are so desperate for something you would kill it! But in reality, we don't go that far.

Helen: Thank goodness!

Rob: Here are some more examples:

  • It's been a really tough day at work, I could murder a beer or two – anyone want to join me at the pub?
  • I'm starving, I could murder a curry.

Helen: It's amazing what people will commit murder for!! But in reality when we would murder for something, we just have a desperate need for something.

Rob: People also describe a situation or a feeling as murder – but again there is no killing involved – they are just trying to explain that something is bad or uncomfortable.

Helen: So the word murder is also used to emphasise a bad situation or uncomfortable feeling. Such as Rob?

Rob: Such as in these examples:

  • Running a marathon is murder on my knees.
  • I've been decorating all day and my back is murder.
  • Don't go on the London underground during the rush hour, it's murder!

Rob: So by saying 'it's murder' he means it's awful; it's terrible. Anyway Helen, now we know there's not been a real murder, I think we should tell these policemen to go home now.

Helen: Good idea. Excuse me…there's been a terrible misunderstanding. There's not been a murder so you can all go home.

Policeman: Oh right. So we've been wasting our time then? But hold on…I think there might be another murder soon.

Helen: Oh, why's that?

Policeman: Well, I could murder a cup of tea!

Helen: Of course.

Rob: I'll put the kettle on.

Helen & Rob: Bye.

Policeman: Milk, two sugars please!

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