Graphic by Michelle Nelson
Graphic by Michelle Nelson

Whether it’s because of misspeaking or misspellings, many of our favorite clichés or phrases have taken on a life of their own. Somewhere along the way of the English language, common phrases evolved into something different. Heard it wrong: “Nip it in the butt.” Saying it right: “Nip it in the bud.” Much like it sounds, “nip it in the bud” comes from horticulture. Trimming a bud prevents it from flowering. Similarly, this phrase is used to stop something before it starts. Heard it wrong: “I could care less.” Saying it right:” I couldn’t care less.” To say you could care less means you are capable of caring less, which is probably not what a speaker intends to say. Heard it wrong: “One in the same.” Saying it right: “One and the same.” Both are used to express similarity, but only one is grammatically correct. The incorrect version probably came from a misheard version of the right phrase. Heard it wrong: “Scotch free.” Saying it right: “Scot free.” Ever wondered where this one came from? The scot was an old royal tax. If you were exempt from paying the scot, you were considered scot free. Today, this phrase is used to describe evading or getting away with something. Heard it wrong: “Irregardless.” Saying it right: “Regardless.” “Regardless” means despite something. By adding a prefix to the word, you are actually making it a double-negative. Heard it wrong: “Another thing coming.” Saying it right: “Another think coming.” This one’s weird because it sounds incorrect, but it originated as a comical expression. However, “another thing coming” seems to have evolved as a more modern version of the phrase and is commonly used. Heard it wrong: “The spitting image.” Saying it right: “The spit and image.” This colloquialism is said to have originated from the Biblical story of God creating Adam with spit and mud. But again, both versions of this phrase are commonly used. So for all intensive purposes – make that “for all intents and purposes” – it may be okay to use a phrase that has changed over time. Just make sure you are saying what you mean.

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