Catch Word #178 – Touch and go

It’s always good to plan ahead, but sometimes you just can’t know what’s around the corner! In this Catch Word episode, Andrew and Morag explain a couple of useful phrases for uncertain situations: touch and go and up in the air.

Fun facttouchandgo

Touch and go can be used as an adjective—a word that modifies a noun or a pronoun. Although there is disagreement, some believe the expression touch and go originated as an allusion to ships that barely escaped disaster when they would touch the seabed or rub against rocks.

Expressions included in the learning materials

  • Touch and go
  • Up in the air
  • Same old, same old
  • To go with the flow
  • A shout-out

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Sample transcript

Andrew:           Morag, what’s new? How are you?

Morag:              I’m doing pretty well, Andrew. But you know, same old, same old. How ’bout you?

Andrew:           You know, I’m the same, same old, same old. My life is going well, but nothing major has happened to report on.

Morag:              That’s sometimes a good thing.

Andrew:           Could be worse, right?

Morag:              That is always true, yes.

Andrew:           Well, I think we should jump right into today’s episode because we have a lot to talk about. But just before we start, I want to throw a special shout-out to our Culips members. I want to dedicate this episode to them because we really rely so much on the support of our members. And yeah, we just really appreciate it, so thank you so much.

Morag:              Yes, absolutely. So many thanks. And for anyone who is not a Culips member yet, you can learn how to sign up on our website, which is is not a Culips member yet, you can learn how to sign up on our website, which is

Andrew:           Of course, members get access to full transcripts, detailed explanations of the more difficult vocabulary that we use, and quizzes for each and every episode. And in my opinion, the learning materials are really one of the best ways to study with us. So if you’re not a member yet, yeah, head on over to and sign up. OK, so now, on to today’s episode. We are going to do a Catch Word episode. And this is where we talk about a couple of interesting expressions—slang expressions, idioms, this sort of thing. And we really look at them in detail. We define them for you, describe them for you, and give you some usage examples. And today, our two expressions are related to uncertain situations, or situations where you don’t really know what’s going to happen. And our first expression is touch and go, touch and go.

Morag:              Yeah, touch and go, touch and go.

Andrew:           So touch and go describes a situation where the outcome is unknown or uncertain.

Morag:              It usually has a negative connotation though, right, Andrew?

Andrew:           To me, yeah, there’s a negative feeling associated with this. If a situation is touch and go, something bad could possibly happen. You’re right.

Morag:              Yeah, something bad could happen at any moment. Like, it might go bad, but it might be OK too.

Andrew:           Yeah, so touch and go. When I think of this expression, we use it a lot when we talk about somebody’s health, the condition of somebody’s health. We also use it to talk about travel plans, and also business situations, like maybe a sales meeting. “It was touch and go with the clients. We didn’t know if we were gonna make the deal, and then in the end, we did.” We could use it in this way.


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english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips