Commonly misused words and phrases

Posted:
in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 91
    dmzdmz Posts: 5,775member
    "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.
  • Reply 2 of 91
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 91
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    For all intensive purposes (incorrect) = for all intents and purposes (correct)
  • Reply 4 of 91
    sslarsonsslarson Posts: 923member
    "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.
  • Reply 5 of 91
    dmzdmz Posts: 5,775member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 91
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Proper usage should never be taken for "granite".



  • Reply 7 of 91
    bbwibbwi Posts: 812member
    Then and than are constantly confused and drives me nuts when people don't use them properly
  • Reply 8 of 91
    mr_emr_e Posts: 40member
    "irregardless" - Man, I hate that one..
  • Reply 9 of 91
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Oh light in up, their just ignorant.



  • Reply 10 of 91
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Oh please, I could care less.













    *When I really couldn't care less.
  • Reply 11 of 91
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr_E View Post


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



    Oh, yeah.
  • Reply 12 of 91
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 91
    "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.
  • Reply 14 of 91
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 91
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    "Here, here" severely gets on my nerves.




    Their, their.
  • Reply 16 of 91
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 91
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 91
    tilttilt Posts: 396member
    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
  • Reply 19 of 91
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 91
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    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.
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