August 06, 2007

#01-001: When You're Hot, You're Hot!

artistic image of a blazing sun

Note: When the Shenzhen Daily was hiring me, they asked me to submit five lessons as part of my application. Since it was August--and VERY hot--I wrote lessons about the heat. This was the first of the five, along with #01-002 through 005.

Get Ready: The word "hot" has many meanings. How many different uses of the word can you think of?

An American named Ricky is talking to his Chinese colleague Lucy at lunchtime, and she misunderstands something he says...

Ricky: Hey, Lucy, bowling was a lot of fun last night.

Lucy: Yeah, and I didn't know you were such a great bowler!

Ricky: Well, when you're hot, you're hot!

Lucy: Uh…you're hot? Do you want them to turn down the air-conditioning?

Ricky: No, Lucy, sorry...

Lucy was naturally confused because the word "hot" has so many meanings. Some dictionaries list almost forty!

Lucy assumed that Ricky was talking about temperature. And that's certainly the first meaning of "hot." Here are some other common meanings. See if you can guess which one Ricky meant.

  1. high in temperature: Usually, summer is hotter than winter.
  2. angry: Sometimes we call a person who gets angry easily "hot-tempered"; but everyone gets hot sometime!
  3. attractive or sexy: Men might talk about "hot chicks" (women) and women about "hot guys." Either one might refer to a hot person as "a hottie."
  4. great or very good: A great athlete or musician might be called a "hot player."
  5. having electrical power or, in some cases, wireless internet access. A café with such access can be called a "hot spot."
  6. popular: This can apply to fashions, places to go, performers, or almost any "trend" that is going strong. "We went to that hot restaurant last night; it was really crowded."
  7. spicy: Foods that burn the tongue are called "hot foods." This can be confusing, because food can be two kinds of hot: spicy and high in temperature!
  8. stolen: Originally, it meant that something was hard to sell (because the thief couldn't prove it was his); it was "too hot to handle." It's often used to describe cars, jewels, and other expensive stolen goods.

Now, which one do you think Ricky meant? He was saying that he was "great" or "very good." But Ricky doesn't mean that he's always good at bowling. The idiom "when you're hot, you're hot" means something like, "When things are going well, you can't do wrong." In fact, the expression has a second half: "When you're not, you're not"!

So basically what he meant was, "I was having a pretty good night, but I'm not really that good all the time."

Stay cool!


Read more:

Practice: Which of the above meanings is used in each sentence below?

  1. Which is hotter, Sichuan food or Thai food?
  2. I'm afraid to ask my boss for a day off; he gets hot so easily.
  3. That hot new movie is at the local cinema; do you want to go see it?
  4. My friend wins every skateboard competition he enters; he's really hot!
  5. Stay inside today; it's hot outside.
  6. There's a new guy working in my department, and he's really hot!
  7. Don't touch that wire; it's hot.
  8. Some guy wanted to sell me a computer on the street, but I didn't buy it; it was probably hot.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 6, 2007

This lesson received 315 visits on my old site between December, 2011, and June, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. g; 2. b; 3. f; 4. d; 5. a; 6. c; 7. e; 8. h.