Today’s English expression is “tailor-made.” A tailor is a professional who makes or alters clothes, usually for one specific person. If you take a dress to be tailored, the dress is altered to fit your body. The same goes for men’s suits, jackets, dress shirts things like that.
So if a suit is tailor-made, if a dress is tailor-made, if a shirt is tailor-made, it’s made specifically for you, for your body, to fit you perfectly.
The expression tailor-made, then, can be applied to any situation that seems like one thing is a perfect fit for another. There are two ways to use it. One way is to say that something has been customized for a user. Another way is to say that something is just coincidentally a good fit.
So let’s start with the first one—one thing that has been customized for a user. Have you ever had to take training classes at work that just feel irrelevant? Some large companies are creating learning programs that are tailor made to each employee. That means, if you work in accounting, you don’t have to take the same training seminars as the people in sales. And if you’re a new salesperson, you don’t take the same training as someone much more senior to you. The company created a tailor-made learning program so that each person gets a customized program.
Now this is a little bit of an exaggeration because it’s not like every single person gets his or her very own, customized plan. But it’s a way of saying that the learning plan is at least targeted to you. Think of it like this. Maybe you didn’t have an expert make a suit specifically for you, but instead you had a suit adjusted to fit your body.
Banks often promise tailor-made solutions to their clients. Not everyone has the same needs with a bank. Think about credit cards. Some people want cards that earn them points with airlines or hotels. Others have less credit, so they’re just looking to get started. Other people want to build their credit by paying off their balances every month. Some people want to use their credit cards to finance a large purchase.
But instead of having one card—and one set of rules—for everyone, banks say they have lots of cards tailor-made for you. That means you can choose the credit card that fits your needs the closest. Again, they’re not going to make a card and set of rules specifically for you (and no one else). But it’s more customized than just offering the same thing to everyone.
The other way to use “tailor-made” is to describe something that is, coincidentally, a good fit. This is how I used it in today’s lesson. Computers are good for a lot of things, right? Computers are great at adding up numbers. They’re great at saving information to retrieve later. Computers are not great at, say, creating beautiful music. Computers are not great at writing fiction.
But chess seems like a tailor-made problem for computers. It’s hard to think of any other traditional human endeavor that is so difficult for a person, and that can be solved so elegantly by a computer. Cooking? No way. Playing football? Of course not. Raising children? Don’t get me started. Adding a column of numbers? Sure, that’s good for a computer but it’s not that hard for a person.
But winning at chess…here’s something that’s a perfect problem for computers to solve. It’s got it all: a defined set of rules, a large number of possibilities, and the need to probability-weight outcomes. It’s almost like chess was invented just for computers to solve. Of course we know it was not. But chess seems like a tailor-made challenge for computers.
If you watched our 500th lesson, you know that JR likes to go to the Field Museum in Chicago. This is the natural history museum in Chicago. And JR sometimes gets invited to parties there. In fact, one time even I was invited to a party at the Field Museum. Imagine that!
The Field Museum feels tailor-made for big events like fund-raisers, parties, and weddings. That’s because it has a large lobby with high ceilings. There’s a big dinosaur to look at in the lobby. There’s a big, open, flexible space. You can’t damage anything in the lobby; the main dinosaur is raised up off the ground. It feels tailor-made for parties and events.
Obviously, the Field Museum was not created for parties; it was created as a museum. But by coincidence, it’s a good fit for parties. That’s why there are many more parties there than at other museums. And we can say that the Field Museum is tailor-made for large parties and events. It feels like it was made for that purpose, even if it wasn’t.
Quote of the Week
It’s Monday so I have a quote of the week for you. JR has recently discovered Suze Orman. She is an author, speaker, television host, and now she has a podcast all about personal finances. And Suze Orman gives good advice, let me tell you.
So here’s a quote from Suze Orman that I need to internalize. Here’s the quote: “A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life.”
I’m a worrier, in case you can’t tell. I obsess over all the what-ifs in life! But I need to do less of that. So I’m keeping this quote from Suze Orman in mind: “A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life.”
See you next time!
And that’s all for this Plain English. Today was lesson number 512, for Monday, October 17, 2022. On Thursday, we’ll revisit this topic with a cheating accusation that is dividing the world of chess. And if you think a person can’t cheat in a televised tournament…well, just wait until you hear Thursday’s lesson. It has happened before.
See you then!