Many people say one thing but mean something completely different. When we speak using popular phrases, we often remember the context they’re used in but never actually break down the words to figure out what we’re really saying. Because of this, popular phrases are often spoken incorrectly. Below are eight incorrect phrases along with the correct phrase and the meaning of both.
1. Incorrect phrase: I could care less
Correct phrase: I couldn’t care less
The correct phrase actually means that the person does not care at all, and they could not possibly care any less. Literally, I could NOT care less.
When this phrase is used incorrectly, the person is actually saying that they do care and there is still room to care less. I COULD care less, meaning the person still does care.
2. Incorrect phrase: Of upmost importance
Correct phrase: Of utmost importance
This phrase is difficult to decipher––both upmost and utmost could technically make sense. However, the correct phrasing uses utmost which also means most extreme or greatest. What the phrase actually means is that something is of the greatest or most extreme importance.
When this phrase is used incorrectly, the person is actually using an old-fashioned word that’s not typically seen in language today. The word is derived from uppermost and means situated at the top or the highest.
3. Incorrect phrase: For all intensive purposes
Correct phrase: For all intents and purposes
The correct phrase actually means for all possible objectives, purposes, reasons, intents or any other synonym for these words. Intents is simply another word for purposes and is acting as a one-two punch in the phrase by using two words that mean practically the same thing to give a stronger meaning.
When this phrase is used incorrectly, the person is actually saying only for intensive or extreme purposes instead of all purposes.
4. Incorrect phrase: Cover all the basis
Correct phrase Cover all the bases
The correct phrase actually means that the person is covering or dealing with all aspects or possibilities. This phrase is often thought of in terms of baseball. If the batter hits the ball and makes it home, he’s literally covered all the bases.
When this phrase is used incorrectly, the person is actually saying that they’ve only covered the foundation for an idea, thought or process.
5. Incorrect phrase: Nip it in the butt
Correct phrase: Nip it in the bud
The correct phrase actually means that the person is putting an end to something before it even begins. This is thought of in terms of a flower. If someone were to nip the bud, the flower would never bloom.
When this phrase is used incorrectly, the person is simply saying they are biting its behind or butt.
6. Incorrect phrase: Statue of limitations
Correct phrase: Statute of limitations
The correct phrase actually means that a written law contains a person’s limitations.
When this phrase is used incorrectly, the person is actually saying there is a literal, physical sculpture or statue of limitations.
7. Incorrect phrase: One in the same
Correct phrase: One and the same
The phrase actually means that two things are the same. By using the conjunction, the sentence is connecting one and the same.
When this phrase is used incorrectly with in as part of the phrase, it really doesn’t mean anything. If the incorrect phrase is actually broken down, it just leaves a question, “One in the same what?”
8. Incorrect phrase: Made a complete 360 change
Correct phrase: Made a complete 180 change
The correct phrase actually means that someone has turned around to face the opposite direction than they were originally facing, or in other words, that they’ve completely changed into a different person.
When this phrase is used incorrectly, the person is actually saying that they’ve turned completely around only to end up in the exact same spot and facing the same direction where they originally started. So, technically the person would be saying that they haven’t changed at all.