• LaToya V Smith - CEO

Are You Sure That's How the Saying Goes?


I discovered this list some time ago but a recent debate made me dig it up again, so I thought I would share with those who are also curious.


It’s always important to ask why but in some cases, we should dive deeper to find meaning.


Don’t simply repeat what you’ve learned or heard from others, seek to understand the meaning behind the words and phrases... you’ll be surprised by what you learn!


*The bolded text is the common misquote, read on for the corrections and explanations. :0)


  1. Nip it in the butt: It’s not a pleasant image when you put it that way. The actual phrase is "nip it in the bud," meaning to end something before it grows and gets out of hand. No butts involved.

  2. On accident: It's correct to say "on purpose," so naturally "on accident" is the opposite, right? Wrong. The correct usage is "by accident."

  3. I could care less: If you could care less about something, that means you still care about it. If you really want to tell someone how few rat tails you have to give, tell them you "couldn’t care less."

  4. Could of: Yes, it may sound like "could of" when said out loud, but it’s spelled "could’ve." It’s a contraction of two words — could and have.

  5. Worse comes to worse: If worse comes to worse, isn't that just the same thing? But if "worse comes to worst," then you can worry. Get in your bunker and prepare for the worst.

  6. Deep seeded: This one kind of makes sense — a seed is planted deep in the ground. But the metaphor is still wrong. The correct phrase is "deep seated," to mean it’s rooted in place and likely hidden.

  7. Do a 360: If you’re trying to change yourself, a 360 will land you right back at the starting position, as it's a full circle. If you’re trying to be different, try doing a 180.

  8. Statue of limitations: While there’s no "statue" dedicated to limitations, there is a "statute (law) of limitations" that dictates how long justice can legally be served after a crime was committed.

  9. Pawn off: This one is tricky because you could indeed get rid of unwanted items in a pawn shop. Except the correct usage is "palm off," and it means to trick someone into doing something so you don’t have to.

  10. Hone In: Skills can be honed, but you can’t hone in on something. The term is "home in," like a homing pigeon bred to find its way home. If you’re homing in, you’re getting close to your goal.

  11. Extract Revenge: If you want revenge on someone, you don’t want to extract it. You want to exact it. "Exacting revenge" means you demand your desire for revenge is satisfied.

  12. You’ve got another thing coming: Taken from the longer phrase, “if you think that, you’ve got another think coming’. So, the correct phrase is, “you’ve got another think coming “.

  13. Wet your appetite: Should actually be, “whet your appetite”, as to whet, means to sharpen or put a fine point on something (think whet stone). Whet is an old word, but the meaning of this phrase is to sharpen the desire for food, but in some cases, people use the phase as an analogy for indulging the mind’s desire to consume knowledge.

  14. For all intensive purposes: Should be ‘for all intents and purposes’.

  15. Hunger pains: Should be ‘hunger pangs’, as a pang is another old word, meaning sudden sharp pain. So extreme hunger may cause a pang in your stomach.

Items 1-11 are originally from WordGenius.com but provided in list form to avoid the pesky adds! :0)

11 Turns Of Phrase Commonly Misused | Word Genius


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