There are roughly 55 million single women in the US, many of them with-it, smokin' and smart, with their finger on the pulse of life.

with-it: 时髦的

smokin: 性感;火辣

have/get one's finger on the pulse: 知道、了解正在发生的一切;消息灵通;掌握脉搏

But when that certain finger is ringless, even the most self-assured single dreads the shame and rebuke of disappointed family during a visit home.

self-assured: 有自信的

The holidays are known to cause stress to scores of single women in the throes of 'The Panic Years', who dub the annual visit-cum-interrogation the 'Thanksgiving Third Degree'.

throe: 剧痛;阵痛

Third Degree: 严刑逼供;拷问

Now some women have admitted to buying fake, cheap 'engagement rings' just to prevent parents - and other overly-critical family members - from delivering ridicule and judgement over their single status.

It may sound like a slippery slope towards avoidance issues and other psychological problems – but if it muzzles them long enough without you getting grilled about why your boyfriend of three years hasn't proposed yet, it could be well worth the $30 investment.

slippery slope: 灾难性的急剧下滑;滑坡效应

grill: 拷问;盘问(犯人等)

Sometimes it's downright soul-crushing when you come home for the holidays empty-handed-literally-watching your family members' faces crumble in disappointment that you're back another year without any engagement bling.

downright: 明白的;直率的;显明的

Heather, a 31-year old lawyer from New York, was well on her way to being both unhitched and unhinged, thanks to her mother's persistent pestering about marriage.

unhitched: 未婚的

unhinged: 精神错乱的

pester: 纠缠;烦扰;使烦恼

She feared that the constant nagging could destroy not just her own sanity, but threaten her long-time relationship with her boyfriend, Tony, who was regularly interrogated about his intentions from his would-be mother-in-law.

nag: 不断地唠叨

Well aware that showing up without a ring for the holidays would taint the mood of the entire weekend, she became very resourceful.

resourceful: 资源丰富的;足智多谋的;机智的

'I got a fake ring for 30 bucks just to shut her up,' she said. 'It actually worked and it turned into a really great visit!'

Just three months later, Heather had a real ring to show off. Tony proposed on their own timetable - on Valentine's Day - and her mother was never the wiser.

never the wiser: 依旧不懂;仍然一无所知