In the modern world of social media and the fast pace of daily life the English language is constantly changing and evolving. Sometimes these changes have a way of altering the way we speak to one another. Words can be easily used to infer one thing when they are trying to communicate something entirely different. As is often the case, many words and phrases, can be misread and interpreted incorrectly over time specifically through word of mouth communication. There are many words and phrases we have culturally come to know well, yet what we may not know is that we’re actually saying them incorrectly. An idiom is a group of words (an expression or phrase) “established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.” A common idiom would be the expression “it’s raining cats and dogs.” Listed below are some of the most commonly misused phrases and idioms in the English Language.
- I could care less instead of I couldn’t care less
The phrase I could care less is often confused with the expression I couldn’t care less to express a lack of interest in something. I could care less actually means that an individual still cares, at least a little. In contrast, I couldn’t care less means they don’t care at all. The incorrect version of this phrase has actually become the norm for many.
- Statue of limitations instead of Statute of limitations
The correct use of this expression is statute of limitations which means to limit a time period in which one may take certain kinds of legal action through the use of a statute, or document.
- For all intensive purposes instead of For all intents and purposes
The meaning of intensive purposes is to be “of, relating to, or characterized by intensity.” The correct expression in this case is all intents and purposes which means that you are covering “all possibilities and circumstances” in a given situation.
- Case and point instead of Case in point
The correct phrase here is to use case in point which refers to an example that better explains a point being made. While the incorrect phrase of case and point is only one small word off from the correct one, it completely changes the meaning of the expression.
- Nip it in the butt instead of Nip it in the bud
To nip a problem in the bud means to stop the issue before it “flowers” or grows into a larger problem, whereas to nip it in the butt, literally refers to nipping or pinching something in the butt – which will obviously not make you any friends.
- Doggy-dog-world instead of Dog-eat-dog world
Dog-eat-dog world refers to the competitive nature of the world and how individuals are willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want, regardless of the way it may negatively affect others. Doggy-dog-world is simply a misinterpretation of the original expression.
For more information about the 100 Most Often Misprounounced Words and Phrases in the English language visit: http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/mispron.html.
“Case in point.” Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon. Dictionary.com, LLC. 25 Jan. 2015.
“Dog-eat-dog.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Jan. 2015.
“For all intents and purposes.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Jan. 2015.
“Idiom.” Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford Universities. n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.
“Intensive.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Jan. 2015.
“Nip in the bud.” McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. 2002. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 26 Jan. 2015.
“Statute of limitations.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Jan. 2015.