Miss Malaprop Herself

Ciara: "Hey Devin! I am going to write a blog post about all of the common phrases I get wrong!"
Devin: "But Ciara, it's going to be sooooooo looooooong!"

Ha. Yes, yes it will. :)

Over the past few years, I've been really getting into reading books. As a result, I am finally seeing a lot of phrases that I had only heard previously. And I've learned that I pictured many of these common phrases completely wrong! I would say them (almost) correctly, but I would be thinking of the wrong words entirely.

But we're not surprised, are we, given my track record? Blasted homophones!

This all actually started when I was a kid. Here are some examples:

What I heard: Girl-cheese sandwich
Actual phrase: Grilled cheese sandwich
"Mommy, David can't have a girl-cheese sandwich for lunch, he needs a boy-cheese sandwich!"

What I heard: ...your awfully wedded husband
Actual phrase: ...your lawfully wedded husband
I thought it used "awfully" as a synonym for "very", like they were saying "to be your very wedded husband"!

What I heard: Charged with a salt & battery
Actual phrase: Charged with Assault & Battery
I didn't know what being assaulted or battered meant as a kid! So I just figured it was some sort of police euphemism!

What I heard: Ten-year
Actual phrase: Tenure
I figured that when people made "ten-year" at their jobs, their job would be secure for the next ten years. :)

What I heard: It's a mute point
Actual phrase: It's a moot point
I knew it meant "the point isn't relevant", so I figured it was may as well have been "mute", or unheard.

What I heard: Youth in Asia
Actual phrase: Euthanasia
Again, kids don't know words like "euthanasia"! I did always wonder why everyone was so upset about Dr. Kevorkian's work with the youth in Asia, though!

Young Ciara, you're so uninformed.

Oh, if only I have been correct since then. Here are the words and phrases that I had wrong as an adult:

I said: Honest Engine
I interpreted it: Mechanics typically don't have the reputation for being the most honest people, so if you get an "honest engine", then it's something especially truthful.
The actual phrase: Honest Injun
Where it came from: "Injun" is a variation of the word "Indian" (Native American). The phrase meant to say, "I am being as honest as a Native American", who were known for always being truthful.

I said: Cadillac Converter
I interpreted it: I knew it was part of a car's engine and assumed that the Cadillac company invented it and that's how it got its name.
The actual phrase: Catalytic Converter
Where it came from: It's a pretty literal name: the catalytic converter uses a catalyst to convert harmful gases into harmless products in a car's exhaust system.

I said: Hair-brained idea
I interpreted it: I knew it meant "ridiculous idea", so I figured it would be like the idea came from a person who (metaphorically) had a bunch of hair clogging their brain.
The actual phrase: Hare-brained idea
Where it came from: Clearly it compares the idea to that of a rabbit's instead.

I said: Unwielding desire
I interpreted it: "Uncontrollable" desire
The actual phrase: Unyielding desire
Where it came from: It actually means inflexible or firm desire.

I said: No holds bar
I interpreted it: "No one is allowed to hold this bar!" I dunno! Somehow I thought that meant people could do crazy things!
The actual phrase: No holds barred
Where it came from: It refers to a type of hand-to-hand combat where there are no restrictions. Holds (holding down your opponent) are not barred (banned) for example.

I said: Sound byte
I interpreted it: I assumed the phrase came from a little bit of recorded sound; a "byte"'s worth.
The actual phrase: Sound bite
Where it came from: It's not an entire sound sandwich; just a short sound bite. :) It's the part of a news broadcast that uses the actual audio from the video instead of an external commentary.

I said: Hit the motherload
I interpreted it: I thought "mother" here was slang for "great/large", so it would be like getting the "best" "load" of something.
The actual phrase: Hit the mother lode
Where it came from: It's an old mining (late 1800s) phrase meaning that they found the principal supply (the "mother") of ore (the "lode").

I said: A sorted past
I interpreted it: I suppose I felt like "a sorted" was another way of saying "assorted"; so the phrase would mean "my random past".
The actual phrase: A sordid past
Where it came from: As it turns out "sordid" means "dirty", so the phrase is actually referring to a "mean" or "vile" past.

I said: That wets my appetite
I interpreted it: You know, you salivate when something looks delicious...!
The actual phrase: That whets my appetite
Where it came from: To "whet" means to "sharpen", so the phrase means "to make me hungrier for something specific".

I said: It doesn't jive well
I interpreted it: Since "jive" can mean "to dance", I thought it meant that somehow the things didn't match up in some sort of rhythmic way.
The actual phrase: It doesn't jibe well
Where it came from: To "jibe" means "to agree"; making the phrase "the things don't agree".

I said: I turn the dice over to...
I interpreted it: I knew it meant "to hand over control", so I guessed it was some sort of gambling reference; that one "handed the dice" over to another person to determine the fate at the craps table, for example.
The actual phrase: I turn the dais over to...
Where it came from: A "dais" is a platform for a speaker, so you give control to the next speaker by letting them stand on the podium.

I said: Hunger pains
I interpreted it: When I get hungry, it's painful!
The actual phrase: Hunger pangs
Where it came from: I was so close! A "pang" is a type of "pain", just a more specific one that comes sharply.

I said: Party hardy
I interpreted it: I thought it was just a cuter way of saying "party hard!"
The actual phrase: Party hearty
Where it came from: "Hearty" means "expressed unrestrainedly", so it's more "party with uninhibited enthusiasm!"

I said: Honing in on an answer
I interpreted it: I just blindly assumed that "hone" meant to narrow in on.
The actual phrase: Homing in on an answer
Where it came from: "To hone" means "to sharpen", so it can get confusing because you can "sharpen" an answer to make it more accurate. But I wasn't using it like that. "To home" means "to proceed towards an objective". So your objective is the answer and you're focusing in on it.

I said: Pouring over something...
I interpreted it: I pictured a glaze being poured over a cinnamon roll, and in that way I'd "pour" over a good book (like I'd cover it with attention).
The actual phrase: Poring over something...
Where it came from: "To pore over" means "to read or study attentively". Yeah, that makes more literal sense than my cinnamony glaze. :)

Older Ciara, you're apparently just as uninformed.

Reading really does make you smarter! Well, it made me a little smarter at least.

You've got to give a girl credit for making up creative alternatives to these phrases to meet what I incorrectly heard, right? Right? :)


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All works copyrighted by Ciara Stella