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Commonly misused words and phrases

post #1 of 92
Thread Starter 
Or, to quote Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

"Possession is nine tenths of the law."

This phrase means that a huge proportion of our laws and legal proceedings are concerned with who owns what. For some reason, I typically hear this phrase used to mean something like "Physically possessing a thing trumps all other claims of ownership", e.g. a family member or friend takes your iPod, you ask to get it back, and he/she chortles, "Possession is nine tenths of the law" while playfully (at least you'd hope playfully) refusing to immediately return the item.

"To coin an expression..."

Coining an expression means inventing that expression, not quoting it! Perhaps somewhere along the line someone has used "to coin an expression" in a sarcastic or ironic sense, knowing they were clearly quoting an existing phrase, but joking as if they were freshly authoring the well-known adage. My impression, however, is that most people who say "to coin an expression" or "to coin a phrase" when they're really quoting, not coining, haven't a clue about the difference between coining and quoting.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #2 of 92
"By hook or by crook" originated with reference to pruning hooks when picking things like apples. Apparently there were two features at the end of the pole, and if one didn't work, the other would.

In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

Reply
post #3 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmz View Post

"By hook or by crook" originated with reference to pruning hooks when picking things like apples. Apparently there were two features at the end of the pole, and if one didn't work, the other would.

Do you feel this phrase is misused? I wouldn't call a phrase "misused" because it's used poetically, not literally, in case that's your point. For this particular example, I wouldn't call any usage of the phrase outside the context of fruit picking "misuse".

It's basically meant to say "done by whatever means will work", and that's how it's generally used in my experience. Because of the other, more contemporary connotation of the word "crook", the phrase also takes on the sense "done by whatever means will work, including breaking rules, committing crimes, etc.". I wouldn't call that additional connotation misuse, however.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #4 of 92
For all intensive purposes (incorrect) = for all intents and purposes (correct)
post #5 of 92
"Which begs the question..." often used to mean "Which raises the question..." which is incorrect. "Begging the question" is a form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself. When one begs the question, the initial assumption of a statement is treated as already proven without any logic to show why the statement is true in the first place.

Also...

"The proof is in the pudding." which just seems to be thrown out without much meaning, well because that statement doesn't really have any meaning. The original phrase is "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" makes much more sense.
post #6 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

Do you feel this phrase is misused? I wouldn't call a phrase "misused" because it's used poetically, not literally, in case that's your point. For this particular example, I wouldn't call any usage of the phrase outside the context of fruit picking "misuse".

It's basically meant to say "done by whatever means will work", and that's how it's generally used in my experience. Because of the other, more contemporary connotation of the word "crook", the phrase also takes on the sense "done by whatever means will work, including breaking rules, committing crimes, etc.". I wouldn't call that additional connotation misuse, however.

Mmmmm... maybe. Language is generally cheapened with the passing of time: "stink" and "odor" didn't originally convey the meanings they do now.

It's definitely a phrase that has been twisted from it's original meaning, regardless.

In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

Reply

In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

Reply
post #7 of 92
Proper usage should never be taken for "granite".

post #8 of 92
Then and than are constantly confused and drives me nuts when people don't use them properly
post #9 of 92
"irregardless" - Man, I hate that one..
He who fights fair WANTS to lose.
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He who fights fair WANTS to lose.
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post #10 of 92
Oh light in up, their just ignorant.

My brain is hung like a HORSE!
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My brain is hung like a HORSE!
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post #11 of 92
Oh please, I could care less.






*When I really couldn't care less.
post #12 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_E View Post

"irregardless" - Man, I hate that one..

Oh, yeah.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #13 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sslarson View Post

"Begging the question" is a form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself.

I'll gladly accept your expertise on this particular matter.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #14 of 92
"Here, here" severely gets on my nerves.

The correct phrase is, "Hear! Hear!" which is in reference to a supporter of a playwright shouting for other members of the audience to carefully take the time to comprehend exactly what is being said.
post #15 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

"Here, here" severely gets on my nerves.

Me too. We could compromise, however, on "Hear here!", which not only implores one to listen, but also helpfully points out where one should listen.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #16 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

"Here, here" severely gets on my nerves.

Their, their.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #17 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Their, their.

That could be a valid answer to "Whose their?", at least if you drop the comma.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #18 of 92
Mayan.

They were a Central American group of people, not another way of pronouncing "mine." But I suppose dumb-ass regional dialects are a topic for another thread.

Also, connote; not connotate.
post #19 of 92
Not "orientate", but orient. Not "preventative" but "preventive". Not "No admittance" but "No admission".

Misuse of apostrophes. "It's" means "It is", not "belonging to it". "Belonging to it" is "its" without the apostrophe.

"Between you and I" - that drives me absolutely nuts. It's "between you and ME" (note the use of the apostrophe in "It's").

"Him and me", "Her and I", "Her and her mother" - Yeesh! Learn when to use "he", "she" and "we" instead of "him", "her" and "us".

"Begging the question" however is my all-time favourite!

Cheers
post #20 of 92
I'm sure I've mentioned this in earlier, similar threads, but somewhere along the line it appears that people stopped hearing the final "D" in "biased" and concluded that "bias" is an adjective.

I constantly come across remarks such as "that's a totally bias opinion," and, I tell you boys, it makes me want to do terrible things.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
post #21 of 92
On the other hand, the application of inadvertently sinister connotation via random quotation marks in now an American folk art form and should be left unmolested.

As in ALL ROOMS RECENTLY "REMODELED" or "FRESH" MEATS or "DOCTOR" ON DUTY.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
post #22 of 92
For example:




Clearly, the owners have killed and eaten their dog and are now playing some kind of sick game.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
post #23 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_E View Post

"irregardless" - Man, I hate that one..

Irregardless is correct albeit informal... it means the same thing as regardless.

ORIGIN early 20th cent.: probably a blend of irrespective and regardless.
post #24 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by tilt View Post

... "Between you and I" - that drives me absolutely nuts. It's "between you and ME" (note the use of the apostrophe in "It's")...

I thought it was "between you and myself."

It seems that using the word "me" shows how you're not very edumacated because "myself" has twice as many syllables! Therefore, it has to be correct... uh, I mean absolutely correct.

Using "absolutely" as an answer is one way to demonstrate you can use four times as many syllables as someone who would merely say "yes."
post #25 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

Using "absolutely" as an answer is one way to demonstrate you can use four times as many syllables as someone who would merely say "yes."

Maybe in some contexts...

...but whenever I use "absolutely," it's to imply a great degree of certainty than just a tepid "yes."
post #26 of 92
Mature.

It can be pronounced "ma-toor" or "ma-chur."

But doesn't "ma-toor" sound pretty fucking stupid? Does anyone actually say "ma-toority" or "ma-toored"
post #27 of 92
When I listen to sports broadcasters they keep using the phrase "as good as anybody in the league" to highlight excellence when it highlights mediocrity.

"That Kobe Bryant can break down a man using a crossover as good as anybody in the league. That is why he is the MVP."

He is the average. That is why he is excellent.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #28 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_E View Post

"irregardless" - Man, I hate that one..

I worked with a guy that said that all the time and it was so funny I say now just to make fun of him. Unfortunately I'm the only one in on the joke.

One woman I work with says "pacifically" all the time. It's gotten so bad I have to keep for laughing when she says it.


I always get a chuckle when people say "that gives me heebie jeebies" without knowing what it really means.


I like to use "jerry-rigged" to which I always add "no offense to the germans".
post #29 of 92
"Highest grossing film of all time."

I loved The Dark Knight. Saw it once in a regular movie theatre and once in IMAX. But all these news articles saying TDK is the "third highest grossing film of all time" don't make sense because the articles don't adjust for ticket-price inflation. And I'm not sure why that's not the standard measure. It's only #49 by that measure.
post #30 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

"Highest grossing film of all time."

I loved The Dark Knight. Saw it once in a regular movie theatre and once in IMAX. But all these news articles saying TDK is the "third highest grossing film of all time" don't make sense because the articles don't adjust for ticket-price inflation. And I'm not sure why that's not the standard measure. It's only #49 by that measure.

Whether it makes sense or not, "highest grossing film of all time" is correct terminology, and that is a figure that is kept record of.
post #31 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

When I listen to sports broadcasters they keep using the phrase "as good as anybody in the league" to highlight excellence when it highlights mediocrity.

"That Kobe Bryant can break down a man using a crossover as good as anybody in the league. That is why he is the MVP."

He is the average. That is why he is excellent.

It's a bit counter intuitive, but it does make sense, if you think about it. If you can do something as good as anybody, you are at the very least tied for the best, if not the best. People say, "as good as anybody in the league" to indicate they might not be the absolute best, but they're pretty much tied for the top spot.
post #32 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Whether it makes sense or not, "highest grossing film of all time" is correct terminology, and that is a figure that is kept record of.

Actually, both figures are available.
post #33 of 92
Quote:
One woman I work with says "pacifically" all the time. It's gotten so bad I have to keep for laughing when she says it.

Haha, that reminds me of "supposeably."

Quote:
I always get a chuckle when people say "that gives me heebie jeebies" without knowing what it really means.

Which means "A feeling of anxiety, apprehension or illness." How are these people using it when they use it incorrectly?

Quote:
I like to use "jerry-rigged" to which I always add "no offense to the germans".

Why would that be offense to germans? Origins of the word are British:

Quote:
Jerry-built, meaning to temporary or shoddy construction, dates to 1869. The OED2 hazards a guess that it may derive from the name of a builder who was notorious for poor construction. An 1884 source (unconfirmed) says that the phrase is in reference to a particular construction project on the Mersey River in Britain.
post #34 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Actually, both figures are available.

Really? I didn't know that!

I said that it was "a" (not "the") figure that is kept record of. True story.
post #35 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Really? I didn't know that!

I said that it was "a" (not "the") figure that is kept record of. True story.

Quote:
Whether it makes sense or not, "highest grossing film of all time" is correct terminology, and that is a figure that is kept record of.

Calm down.

It wasn't clear at all that the inflation-adjusted figure was what you were referring to in that bolded part.
post #36 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Calm down.

It wasn't clear at all that the inflation-adjusted figure was what you were referring to in that bolded part.

I'm pretty calm. The sarcasm was just for added affect, I'm not actually angry or anything.
post #37 of 92
I am. I'm angry enough for everyone. It makes me powerful.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
post #38 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Why would that be offense to germans? Origins of the word are British:

Because during WWII, the Germans were referred to as 'Gerries' or 'Jerries' as a cultural slur, like calling the Japanese 'Japs' or 'Nips'. It's coincidentally similar, but some take offense at anything remotely close. (I've gotten screamed at for using the word 'niggardly', which has got jack-all to do with the N word. Oh, and apologies to any Jacks out there.)

And from a previous discussion on this term, it apparently also can be traced back to sailing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_rig
My brain is hung like a HORSE!
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My brain is hung like a HORSE!
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post #39 of 92
Did you hear about that guy that got fired from the DC government for using using the word niggardly? He was asked how he would manage the budget for some department. He said, "very niggardly". By the time people were educated about the word it was concluded that he should have known that people would misconstrue his intention and so he was fired.
post #40 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by mydo View Post

Did you hear about that guy that got fired from the DC government for using using the word niggardly? He was asked how he would manage the budget for some department. He said, "very niggardly". By the time people were educated about the word it was concluded that he should have known that people would misconstrue his intention and so he was fired.

I remember that. It struck me as a depressing example of mass stupidity. Once of those occasions where you keep waiting for the grownups to show up to explain things, and they never do.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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