Let’s start with shore up. Here’s what you heard initially: France’s museums are using the proceeds of their agreement with the United Arab Emirates to shore up their own collections. What this means is that they’re using the proceeds or the money they are receiving to enhance or improve their collections back home. They’re lending some of their works to the new Louvre Abu Dhabi, and in exchange they’re getting money that they can use to buy more artwork for their home collections. In that sense, they are shoring up their collections. You can often use this phrase when you know something needs to be improved or enhanced. For example, if you have to spend a lot of money you weren’t planning on spending, you might have to shore up your savings in the next couple of months. You need to save more, or improve your savings because you just spent so much. After the financial crisis in the late 2000s, governments around the world tried to shore up their banking systems—that is, they tried to make them stronger. Another common use of this phrases is to say someone is trying to shore up support for a person or an idea. In the United States right now, Republicans in Congress are trying to shore up support for their tax reform bills. That means they’re looking to establish and enhance the support they have in Congress and in public. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats will be trying to shore up support to win a majority in Congress in 2018.
Our second expression this week is “spill into.” The big Thanksgiving shopping weekend spills into the following week, meaning that it extends into the next week. We say something spills into another day, another week, or another year when something extends beyond the original timeline. It used to be that most people did their shopping on the weekend during their free time, so the holiday shopping was confined to the Friday and the weekend after Thanksgiving. But now that we can all shop from our computers or our phones 24/7, the Thanksgiving sales have started to spill into the following week. They’re not confined to the weekend any longer. I think it’s more common to use “spill into” when you’re referring to an original timeline or deadline that won’t be met. For example, imagine you have some household chores you need to get done on a Saturday. By the end of the day, you’ve done most, but not all of your chores. So, your errands will spill into Sunday. I was hoping to paint my whole apartment in 2017, but I have a feeling that’s going to spill into 2018 because I’m not going to be able to finish between now and the end of the year.
Throw weight behind
I wanted to talk about one more expression this week. This one is less common, but it’s a good one to know. In the story about Singles Day, I said that Alibaba threw its weight behind the holiday in 2009. That means it lent its support to something, or it promoted something. Prior to 2009, Singles Day was just a light-hearted celebration, but after Alibaba threw its weight behind the holiday, after Alibaba started promoting it, it’s now a huge global shopping day. You might also say that the French government threw its weight behind the deal with the United Arab Emirates to establish the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Without the support of the French government, the museum probably would never have worked. But since political leaders in both countries threw their weight behind the idea, it gained public support.
That’s it for this week’s episode of Plain English. I hope you enjoyed the topics; if you have any feedback on how the episodes are going, don’t hesitate to connect with the show on either Twitter or Facebook. We are PlainEnglishPod on both. And remember the transcripts are available online at PlainEnglish.com. If you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, you can find a link to the show transcript from right inside the Podcasts app on your iPhone or iPad. Until next week thanks for listening to Plain Englis