11 Common Phrases You’re Probably Getting Wrong

It's time to nip these misused phrases in the bud, once and for all. 

For all intents and purposes, it’s important that you avoid using the phrase “intensive purposes.” This phrasal confusion, one among many, is common in the English language. We think we hear something and soon enough, it becomes a near-mainstream (and completely incorrect) pronunciation or organization of words. In 2015, Merriam-Webster introduced the word “eggcorn,” which is defined as a “word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase…”

To help you tackle even the most obvious eggcorns, Real Simple compiled a list of words or phrases you’ve probably misused at least once or twice.

1

For All Intensive Purposes vs. For All Intents and Purposes

smacking-forehead
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While you’re most likely intending to use this idiom as a way to say “for all practical purposes,” the latter is correct. This phrase ultimately considers the “intents” of the subject, not the “intensity.”

2

I Could Care Less vs. I Couldn’t Care Less

Though the former is often used in everyday conversation, breaking the phrases down helps better understand its meaning. “I could care less” means that it is possible to care less about something. But if you “couldn’t care less,” you have reached your lowest point and have little to no care about the subject or situation. So, if you could care less about learning more, read on.

3

Case and Point vs. Case in Point

The idiom “case in point” means “an example that supports one’s argument.” Here, you are not dealing with a separate “case” and “point,” but you are dealing with a nearly 400-year-old idiom to help explain your argument. You might need help with properly pronouncing phrases, case in point, you’re reading this article.

RELATED: 30 Commonly Mispronounced Words (and How to Say Them)



4

One in the Same vs. One and the Same

It makes sense to say “one and the same” to explain “the same person or thing.” Note that it’s redundant to say “one” and “the same,” but it’s wrong to say “one in the same.”

5

You’ve Got Another Thing Coming vs. You’ve Got Another Think Coming

President Obama even misstepped and said “thing” instead of “think.” British heavy metal band Judas Priest even recorded a song titled, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” Because the phrase is typically preceded by “If you think,” it only makes sense to say that this person—who you’re arguing is mistaken—has another think coming.

6

Chomp at the Bit vs. Champ at the Bit

Digging into this misused phrase, it’s important to look back at the new and old word for “chewing.” Though “chomp” has become a more modern way to describe noshing, “champing at the bit” alludes to an impatient horse chewing on its bit, or mouthpiece.

RELATED: 10 Surprising Words That Are Now in the Dictionary



7

Upmost vs. Utmost

Unless you’re trying to use a word more frequently used in former centuries, you should be saying “utmost” when describing something that’s “of the highest or greatest degree.” Upmost is a more dated word, short for “uppermost,” that means “situated at the top.”

8

Mute Point vs. Moot Point

We can’t stop talking about a moot point. That should help you remember that a moot point is a “debatable question.” It would be difficult to debate, however, if you couldn’t hear it because it was on “mute.”

9

Nip It in the Butt vs. Nip It in the Bud

This particular idiom references cutting the bud of a plant before it is able to grow into a flower. So, instead of taking a knife someone’s backside, let’s simply “nip it in the bud.”



10

Jive With vs. Jibe With

There’s a difference between literally grooving and finding your groove with another person. “Jive” and “jibe” are often confused, but “jive” means to dance and “jibe” means to agree. But maybe after you jibe, you can go jive?

11

World Wind vs. Whirlwind

You’ve just checked Instagram and your friend and her boyfriend of two months are engaged—talk about a world wind romance, right? Wrong. “Whirlwind” refers to a small rotating windstorm of limited extent, but it is now used as an adjective describing a situation “resembling a whirlwind especially in speed or force.”