14 phrases you might be saying incorrectly

Have you ever been talking to someone, only to be corrected for a phrase you’ve used and being shocked (and

Have you ever been talking to someone, only to be corrected for a phrase you’ve used and being shocked (and a little embarrassed) that you were incorrect all these years?

You’re definitely not alone! It’s quite easy to get some common sayings wrong, because English is a complex and confusing language.

Here’s a list of common phrases you might not have realised you were saying incorrectly.

1. What you say: Nip it in the butt

What you should say: Nip it in the bud

Nipping something in the bud means that you’re putting an end to it before it has a chance to start – nipping something in the butt means something else entirely!

2. What you say: I could care less

What you should say: I couldn’t care less

Saying that you could care less about a topic mean that you do care about it. What you do mean is that you don’t care about the topic at all.

3. What you say: One in the same

What you should say: One and the same

“One in the same” doesn’t really mean anything at all. “One and the same” means that two things are the same.

4. What you say: On accident

What you should say: By accident

You can do something on purpose, but not on accident. It also sounds more correct to say ‘by accident’.

5. What you say: Statue of limitations

What you should say: Statute of limitations

6. What you say: For all intensive purposes

What you should say: For all intents and purposes

7. What you say: Beckon call

What you should say: Beck and call

8. What you say: Mute point

What you should say: Moot point

A mute point would mean that it is unable to be articulated, but that’s not what this idiom should mean. A moot point is a debatable question, or one of no importance.

9. What you say: Self-depreciating

What you should say: Self-deprecating

This is more or less just a mistake in what we have read and then said. Depreciating is an economic term to indicate the value of something drops over time, whereas deprecating means to undervalue oneself.

10. What you say: Irregardless

What you should say: “Regardless

“Ir” is a prefix that negates the phrase that comes before it, which is unnecessary when “less” is already doing that.

11. What you say: Peak/peek my interest

What you should say: “Pique my interest”

We can see how this one makes sense as peak means the reach the high, but in correct English grammar, pique means to provoke or arouse.

12. What you say: Baited breath

What you should say: Bated breath

Baited breath would mean your breath is tormented, but bated is waiting in suspense.

13. What you say: Free reign

What you should say: Free rein

This is an easy mistake to make as we think free reign means to give a leader the ability to do what they want but the original phrase was derived from loosening the reins on a horse.

14. What you say: Hunger pains

What you should say: Hunger pangs

Like other phrases, the way we say it makes sense – if we’re hungry it can be painful. However, hunger pangs is the original phrase, as in the sharp jolts you feel from hunger.

Tell us, were you saying any of these incorrectly? 

Originally published here

  1. Speak properly/spell properly; they go hand in hand. That’s the problem with many people today; they can’t speak and they can’t spell.

  2. No most people can’t spell.but there’s also nothing worst having a person correct you.every time you talk.sometimes that it self is annoying

  3. vicky  

    I’d add “All that glisters is not gold” and “champing at the bit” as two sayings oft misquoted

    • The ‘glitters’ version long ago superseded the original and is now almost universally used. People don’t tend to speak in Shakespearean phrases these days … Champing at the bit is the correct terminology. If you were chomping at it you wouldn’t be eager to get going, you would be hungry.

  4. Well I was wrong with hunger pangs, however it’s not a term I really use , I usually say ” I’m

  5. “All that glisters is not gold” and “Champing at the bit” could be added to the list.

    • The ‘glitters’ version long ago superseded the original and is now almost universally used as people no longer tend to speak in Shakespearean phrases. “Champing at the bit” is correct. If you were chomping you would be hungry, not eager!

    • Wikipedia says that “glisten” or “glitters” is more common and accepted today. But, hey, if you’re going to quote Shakespeare, you may as well get it right! (And yes, I am a pedantic English secondary school teacher!)

    • Yes, champing is correct – a champ is a form of bit that goes in a horse’s mouth, hence the origin.

    • Yes, I have often reminded people of glisters, rather than glitters and been met with incredulity. Was it Shakespeare? I had the funny impression that it was Robbie Burns..

  6. Punctuation is another pet peeve of mine as well as people knowing when to use capital letters. I can see some now.

  7. Another is ‘One Fell Swoop’ – often mispronounced as ‘One Foul Swoop’. It means to act swiftly and suddenly across a number of targets.

    • I think I always said foul sweep too. I had a Jewish boss who said all the sayings the wrong way around.
      E.G The ball is at my foot.
      It was funny but he honestly thought that was the saying. The ball is in my court. It’s ok.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *