25 Phrases That You Might Be Saying Incorrectly

Posted by , Updated on December 14, 2023

Phrases. We say them in everyday conversations in order to describe certain societal situations or make light of difficult explanations. However, their specificity sometimes suffer as improper use of the terminology is spread among the masses. Are you guilty of misquoting some of these common phrases? Whether it’s some fine point of grammar or just simple pronunciation, these are 25 phrases that you might be saying incorrectly.



Wrong: case and point

exampleSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: Case in point

This is used to bring up an example that proves your argument.


Wrong: one in the same

twinsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: one and the same

This phrase is used to indicate that two things are exactly alike.


Wrong: nip it in the butt

start finishSource: wikipedia, Image: andrewhurley via flickr

Right: nip it in the bud

Nipping something in the bud means you’re ending it before it starts. Nipping something in the butt, well, that means something completely different.


Wrong: scotch-free

freeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: scot-free

This means to get away without a deserved punishment.


Wrong: statue of limitations

statueSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: statute of limitations

It’s a statute, not a statue.


Wrong: fall by the waste side

carsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: fall by the wayside

Falling by the wayside means to not keep up with the group.


Wrong: self-depreciating

moneySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: self-deprecating

To self-deprecate means to undervalue yourself. “Depreciate”, on the other hand, is an term used in economics to indicate that the value of something drops over time.


Wrong: escape goat

goatSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: scapegoat

Except for goats breaking out of prisons, the correct term is “scapegoat”, which refers to a person or group that bears blame for others.


Wrong: doggy dog world

dogSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: dog-eat-dog world

Doggy dog world doesn’t even make sense. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where every man is for himself.


Wrong: old timer's disease

alzheimer'sSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: Alzheimer’s disease

While it may be for old-timers, that’s not the name.


Wrong: curl up in the feeble position

fetusSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: curl up in the fetal position

It’s a fetus. That’s why it’s called the “fetal position”.


Wrong: make due

settlersSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: make do

While this is more of a spelling issue, to make something due would mean to enforce a deadline. To “make do” is short for “make do well enough”.


Wrong: They read good

grammarSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: They read well

Although it’s more of a middle school grammar lesson, this one is so common that it bears repeating. “Good” is an adjective. It modifies nouns. If you are describing how she reads then you use the adverb “well”.


Wrong: a blessing in the skies

skySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: a blessing in disguise

Maybe rain during a drought would really be a blessing in the skies, but that’s not what the phrase is referring to. A blessing in disguise is something bad that actually turns out to be good.


Wrong: Heineken remover

heimlich maneuverSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: Heimlich Maneuver.

Although you very well might be removing Heineken, it’s called the Heimlich Maneuver.


Wrong: making a 360 degree turn in life

circleSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: making a 180 degree turn in life

If you make a 360 degree turn, you will end up facing the same direction.


Wrong: extracting revenge

revengeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: exacting revenge

Extracting something means to take it out of something else. Exacting something means to require it. You are exacting revenge, not extracting it.


Wrong: giving someone leadway

that's not even a real wordSource: wikipedia

Right: giving someone leeway

Leadway isn’t even a word.


Wrong: to hone in

homing missileSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: to home in

To hone something means to sharpen it, to home in on something means to get closer or to approach it.


Wrong: you've got another thing coming

thinkingSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: you’ve got another think coming

The entire phrase is, “if that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.”


Wrong: hunger pains

foodSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: hunger pangs

Although the wrong version makes sense (which is why people use it), the original phrase is “hunger pangs”.


Wrong: should of

grammarSource: wikipedia

Right: should have

Of is a preposition, not an auxiliary verb. When you talk fast they sound the same, but if you’re giving a slow, professional speech, don’t make this mistake!


Wrong: step foot

houseSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: set foot

Although never “stepping” foot in your friend’s house again sounds ok, the phrase is actually that you are never “setting” foot in your friend’s house again.


Wrong: mute point

muteSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: moot point

Once again, “mute point” seems to make sense, but it’s actually a “moot point”. The term moot is a legal term that dates back to the 1500s and means that something is open to debate.


Wrong: near miss

near missSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Right: near hit

If you’re driving, you barely escape a collision, and you look at your friend to say “wow, that was a near miss!”, then what you are implying is that you actually did have a collision. To nearly miss something means to hit it. To nearly hit something means to miss it.