Phrases that people often mangle or misuse

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Calboner, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. Calboner

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    There are some phrases that have, or at least originally had, a meaning that was cleverly expressed in a metaphor or an allusion, but which now are too often used in a banal and thoughtless way. I have collected some instances. Maybe others will think of other examples.

    "The proof is in the pudding. " This is a degraded version of the saying "The proof of the pudding is in the eating. " The original saying is coherent, witty, and pointed; the mangled version is witless and senseless. The original phrase means that if something is made for a certain purpose, then the proof (i.e., the test) of its merit is how well it fulfills that purpose. As a pudding is made to be eaten, so the proof of it is in the eating. The idea is not that if you want proof of something, you should look in a pudding, as the idiotic mangled version of the saying has it.

    "Sour grapes." Contrary to popular understanding, this does not mean being bitter about losing. It means disparaging something that you wanted but failed to obtain. It comes from a fable of Aesop, in which a fox that is unable to reach a bunch of grapes goes away saying that the grapes were probably sour anyway. (I thought that the fable was ridiculous until I read somewhere, to my surprise, that foxes actually do like grapes!)

    "To play cat and mouse." Sometimes, when a cat catches a mouse, it does not kill it, but lets it go free for a moment, only to catch it again repeatedly, as if playing a cruel game with its victim. (I have heard that mother cats do this before their kittens to train them to catch mice.) To play with someone who is in your power in an analogous fashion is to "play cat and mouse" with that person. The phrase does not mean hunting after someone.
     
  2. nudeyorker

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    My favorite is one I grew up hearing is Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater...I don't hear this much anymore, but it means don't throw the good things out with the bad. I'm not sure where this originated however my theory is that before running water when family's took baths in the same water I suspect the baby was the last one.
     
  3. Enid

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    1. 10 items or less (should be 10 items or fewer)

    2. I could care less (should be I couldn't care less)


    Ah, these don't really fit the definition of phrases that have a meaning expressed in a metaphor or allusion though. Just caught that. Perhaps I can come up with something after some thought.
     
    #3 Enid, Mar 22, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  4. hoolibubba

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    Its not rocket surgery is it
     
  5. Meniscus

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    Pride goeth before a fall. Unlike your examples, Cal, this one makes sense as it is, but it's actually a shortened version of Proverbs 16:18, which reads, in full, "Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall" (American Standard Version).
     
  6. B_stu.kay823

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    Worse than that is people who make up words and then use them in everyday conversation as though they are actual words!
     
  7. Calboner

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    :eek: Oh, Lord! I don't think I've heard that one yet! But no doubt it's only a matter of time before I do.
    Thanks; I didn't know the original version. Mangled Biblical phrases could be a class by themselves. I can think of a couple right off:

    "By the skin of one's teeth." A mangling of "with the skin of one's teeth." Job says: "My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth" (Job 19:20). I understand that it means a narrow escape, but what exactly is meant by the skin of the teeth or how that signifies a narrow escape, I don't know.

    "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." The original passage reads: "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7). What is unforgivable is the ungrammatical version "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." As if the authors of the King James version would have been so illiterate as to say "let he"! Ugh!! :yuck:
     
  8. JustAsking

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    "Out Of Pocket" - I hate it when this phrase is used by businessmen to say that they will not be reachable due to travel or something else. Where did that come from?

    They say, "I will be traveling Tuesday and Wednesday so I will be out of pocket."
     
  9. yhtang

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    I have not heard this phrase used in this way. I would say "I am out of pocket" if I had to fork out money which I should not have had to do.
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    I use that one all the time.

    There are many that will come to mind later in this modern Malaprop Stronzo Memoriam. I imagine that it will give him great comfort in his solecism.

    Parting shot. Should be Parthian shot.
     
    #10 Drifterwood, Mar 23, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2009
  11. HazelGod

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    How boo-zhwah of you... :tongue:


    "Same difference"
    This one irritates me to no end...it's a bastard conflation of "same thing" and "no difference." Fucking pick one or the other.
     
  12. nicenycdick

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    I simply can not stand the expression "went missing", as in: "He went missing". This phrase has popped up in only the last 5 years. When you use the verb went, the implication is that something or someone moved from one location to another. It can also be used to indicate an action, such as: "He went fishing". "Missing", however, is not a new location or an activity...it is a new condition. The proper phrase is: "He is missing."

    I understand it is used in the same way we say: "He went blind" (to become as specified: to go mad, blind, deaf, etc.), but this is an idiomatic use that is usually reserved for a change in a physical condition, not a circumstantial or spatial one. It's recent extension to the condition of being missing just annoys me.
     
    #12 nicenycdick, Mar 23, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2009
  13. ManlyBanisters

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    'Try and' really fucking bugs the living crap out of me. "I'll try and do that next Tuesday" - surely it should be "try to" - "I'll try to do that next Tuesday" - the verb is in the infinitive form, where does the 'and' come from? It's in such common use but for me it is as bad as 'should of'. "I should of thought of that!" - Should HAVE, HAVE, you asshat!!

    Then, of course, there are the Shakespeare misquotes that drive me batshit. "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio" - not 'I knew him well' - Hamlet is talking to Horatio. And it is "All that glisters is not gold", not 'glitters'. And it may seem trivial as the meaning does not change but the actual quote from Henry IV, Part One is "The better part of valour is discretion", not the other way around.

    Get it together, people! :rolleyes:
     
  14. B_Nick8

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    My sister, the original Miss Malaprop, once remarked to me that something was "Half of one; six dozen of the other." When I tried to explain why, mathematically alone this was incorrect, exasperated, she cried "But darling, that's exactly why it's an expression!!."
     
  15. Calboner

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    I haven't yet heard that and I hope I never do.
    Fuck me! I didn't know that! But a Google search got me a pageful of sites confirming what you say.
     
  16. HazelGod

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    Ugh...I wish I never had. Unfortunately, this is one of those doublespeak phrases that pervades corporate culture like chlamydia in a frat house.

    Which reminds me of another...I don't know if it's technically a mangling or misusage, but it's so hackneyed at this point that hearing this phrase uttered aloud makes me want to punch babies:
    "At the end of the day, ..."
     
  17. Calboner

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    That one is indeed irritating, but it is not used as often as "going forward," a phrase that contributes absolutely nothing to the meaning of the utterances in which it occurs.
     
  18. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Bush's Odd Phrasings....



    "Will the highways to the Internet become more few?" -- is a question "W" asked when he was asked by a reporter about the Time Warner/America Online merger in 2000.


    "Rarely is the question asked, 'Is our children learning?'"


    "I was like a pitbull on the pant leg of opportunity. And I just grabbed onto it. I was going to put the deal together. And I did."


    "I know that human being and fish can coexist peacefully" - is an off-the-cuff remark Governor Bush made from his prepared speech, reassuring the business community he did not support the tearing down of energy-producing dams merely to protect threatened fish species.


    "Families is where our nation finds hope. Where wings take dream." - is what Bush said on the campaign trail, talking about the importance of American families


    "I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system" - is how Bush described his administrations support of bailouts for AIG, Citigroup, General Motors.
     
  19. Deno

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    Just last week I was at the laundry and a walked across the street to a neighborhood store to see what time it was and I said exactily that, she asked if she could help me and I said to her "yes I was wondering if you could tell me what time it was, she responded to me, you want to know what time it is. I never realized how wrong it is to say what time it was like that since it was every time at one time.
     
  20. Meniscus

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    Good one.

    More good ones.

    Your sister's version sounded wrong to me, but I have to confess it took me a moment to find her mistake. Then I laughed, and laughed.

    OK, if you insist. (Seriously, your ass is way too fuckable to be wasted on a straight guy.:tongue:)
     
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