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October 2, 2015 - Posted by Top Writers Reviews

Commonly Mis-Used Phrases in Writing – Even the Best Writers Goof Sometimes

Commonly Mis-Used Phrases in Writing – Even the Best Writers Goof Sometimes

I read a lot of news articles. And they come from pretty top-notch sources – Forbes, Huffington Post, Time, etc. The writers of these articles are seasoned and accomplished journalists, and yet, every so often they will have mis-used phrases in their text that cause me to smile or, on occasion, be a little irritated. So, here is a list of some of the most commonly used phrases that don’t make sense, if you stop to think about them.

  •  “I could care less.” If you are saying that you actually could care less about something, it means that you do care about it, at least somewhat. The correct phrase here is, “I couldn’t care less.”
  • “First come – first serve.” This literally means that the first person to arrive has to serve the others who arrive after. The correct phrase is “first come – first served.” Now that makes sense!
  • “Extract revenge. So, what are you going to do, take revenge out like a tooth? Extract means to remove. On the other hand, if you “exact revenge” you actually achieve it.
  • “Shoe-in.” I suppose you could get your shoe in somewhere, maybe in a door to stop someone from closing it. But the correct phrase is “shoo in,” meaning that a person is most certainly to be chosen or elected. Example: He was a “shoo-in” for that award. He was the obvious pick.
  • “Honed in. The word “hone” is a verb, yes, but it means to fine tune something. So, you really can’t “hone in” on a target. You can, however, “home in” on a target, such as a drone would do.
  • “Baited breath.” The word “bait” is a noun or a verb. You use fish “bait.” Or you “bait,” or taunt/tease someone. If you wait with “baited breath,” however, you have use one of many phrases that make no sense. “Bated” is the correct word – it is an adjective that means “suspenseful,” and that is how you are waiting – in suspense or in anxiety.
  • Piece of Mind” vs. “Peace of Mind. I can give you a “piece of my mind,” meaning I can be angry with you and tell you about it. Or, I can have “peace of mind,” which means I am calm and content.
  • A 360ᴼ turnaround. This is one of the most commonly incorrect phrases that we use. If you make a 360-degree change in your life, you have come around the full circle and re right back where you started. The correct phrase is “making a 180ᴼ turnaround,” because you have now reached the opposite side of that “circle.”
  • Make due. If you “make due,” it rather means that you are making a payment due from someone who owes you for something. The correct phrase it “make do,” which means that you will use what you have to accomplish whatever it is you need to. So, you might “make do” with what is in the fridge for supper because you didn’t have time to get to the grocery story.
  • “Nip it in the butt.” Now this is among those phrases that don’t make sense and yet are pretty funny. If you are going to “nip it in the butt,” whose butt are you going to nip? The correct phrase is “nip it in bud.” This means that you are going to take care of something while it is still a tiny problem before it “blossoms” into a bigger one.

There are of course many other commonly mis-used phrases, but these seem to be the ones that appear most often. Watch for these in your writing, and have a good laugh when some seasoned writer or journalist uses them.

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