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29 Common Phrases You'll Be Surprised To Know You're Saying Wrong

Let's just play it by year... Oops, I mean play it by ear.

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1. "Play it by year" vs. "Play it by ear."

You obviously weren't using your ears when they invented this phrase. Play it by ear means to improvise or deal with a situation as it plays out.Correct term: "Play it by ear."
Sony Pictures

You obviously weren't using your ears when they invented this phrase. Play it by ear means to improvise or deal with a situation as it plays out.

Correct term: "Play it by ear."

2. "Old wise tale" vs. "Old wives' tale."

A wise tale is sometimes wrong, but an old wives' tale is always is an old story that is based more on legend than fact.Correct term: "Old wives' tale."
WB

A wise tale is sometimes wrong, but an old wives' tale is always is an old story that is based more on legend than fact.

Correct term: "Old wives' tale."

3. "It's a doggy-dog world" vs. "It's a dog-eat-dog world."

No, Snoop Dogg didn't coin this phrase, which describes merciless competition.Correct term: "Dog-eat-dog world."
Columbia Pictures

No, Snoop Dogg didn't coin this phrase, which describes merciless competition.

Correct term: "Dog-eat-dog world."

4. "I could care less" vs. "I couldn't care less."

The wrong version defeats the purpose of the correct phrase, meaning you have no fucks to give.Correct term: "I couldn't care less."
Netflix

The wrong version defeats the purpose of the correct phrase, meaning you have no fucks to give.

Correct term: "I couldn't care less."

5. "Lip sing" vs. "Lip sync."

Although you do need lips to sing, lip sync is short for lip synchronization, as in moving your mouth exactly to the recorded sound.Correct term: "Lip sync."
ABC

Although you do need lips to sing, lip sync is short for lip synchronization, as in moving your mouth exactly to the recorded sound.

Correct term: "Lip sync."

6. "No pain, no game" vs. "No pain, no gain."

This one almost makes sense, but not as much sense as the true phrase, which means there is value to hard or perhaps even painful work.Correct term: "No pain, no gain."
E!

This one almost makes sense, but not as much sense as the true phrase, which means there is value to hard or perhaps even painful work.

Correct term: "No pain, no gain."

7. "Up and Adam" vs. "Up and at 'em."

We're happy for Adam being up, but the phrase is really a shortened version of up and at them, meaning you're alert and ready to start the day or work.Correct term: "Up and at 'em."
youtube.com

We're happy for Adam being up, but the phrase is really a shortened version of up and at them, meaning you're alert and ready to start the day or work.

Correct term: "Up and at 'em."

8. "Nip it in the butt" vs. "Nip it in the bud."

No butts in this phrase, which means to put an early and quick end to something.Correct term: "Nip it in the bud."
Warner Bros.

No butts in this phrase, which means to put an early and quick end to something.

Correct term: "Nip it in the bud."

9. "For all intensive purposes" vs. "For all intents and purposes."

Nothing wrong with your purposes being intensive, but for all intents and purposes this phrase is a catchall, meaning in every practical sense.Correct term: "For all intents and purposes."
youtube.com

Nothing wrong with your purposes being intensive, but for all intents and purposes this phrase is a catchall, meaning in every practical sense.

Correct term: "For all intents and purposes."

10. "Two peas in a pot" vs. "Two peas in a pod."

As delicious as potted peas sound, this phrase means that two things or people are so similar, they're hard to tell apart.Correct term: "Two peas in a pod."
Paramount Pictures

As delicious as potted peas sound, this phrase means that two things or people are so similar, they're hard to tell apart.

Correct term: "Two peas in a pod."

11. "Butt naked" vs. "Buck naked."

We admit "butt naked" makes so much more sense, but "butt" is wrong and "buck" is right.Correct term: "Buck naked."
Summit Entertainment

We admit "butt naked" makes so much more sense, but "butt" is wrong and "buck" is right.

Correct term: "Buck naked."

12. "Don't take me for granite" vs. "Don't take me for granted."

We promise no one will take you for granite, unless your name is Medusa. The correct phrase means "Don't assume carelessly that something is okay."Correct term: "Don't take me for granted."
NBC

We promise no one will take you for granite, unless your name is Medusa. The correct phrase means "Don't assume carelessly that something is okay."

Correct term: "Don't take me for granted."

13. "Mute point" vs. "Moot point."

If your point is mute, then no one is hearing it. The correct phrase — moot point — means something that is open to argument, or of little to no relevance.Correct term: "Moot point."
Fox

If your point is mute, then no one is hearing it. The correct phrase — moot point — means something that is open to argument, or of little to no relevance.

Correct term: "Moot point."

14. "Toilet trees" vs. "Toiletries."

Keep our trees toilet free! Use the correct word, which means all that stuff that's in your bathroom right now.Correct term: "Toiletries."
youtube.com

Keep our trees toilet free! Use the correct word, which means all that stuff that's in your bathroom right now.

Correct term: "Toiletries."

15. "Right off the back" vs. "Right off the bat."

Back off this incorrect usage. This old baseball term means something that happened in a hurry or at the very beginning.Correct term: "Right off the bat."
youtube.com

Back off this incorrect usage. This old baseball term means something that happened in a hurry or at the very beginning.

Correct term: "Right off the bat."

16. "Scotch-free" vs. "Scot-free."

We love the Scotch (especially the liquid kind), but the correct phrase is scot-free, meaning getting away with something without punishment or consequence.Correct term: "Scot-free."
ABC

We love the Scotch (especially the liquid kind), but the correct phrase is scot-free, meaning getting away with something without punishment or consequence.

Correct term: "Scot-free."

17. "Paper view" vs. "Pay-per-view."

Um, yeah. Do we really need to explain this?Correct term: "Pay-per-view."
Fox

Um, yeah. Do we really need to explain this?

Correct term: "Pay-per-view."

18. "Straightened arrow" vs. "Straight and narrow."

The arrow community may beg to differ, but the correct path for this phrase is straight and narrow, meaning honest.Correct term: "Straight and narrow."
ABC

The arrow community may beg to differ, but the correct path for this phrase is straight and narrow, meaning honest.

Correct term: "Straight and narrow."

19. "Statue of limitations" vs. "Statute of limitations."

Just one letter off, but so wrong. It is set in stone that a statute of limitations is a law that limits the time frame of charging someone with a crime or civil suit.Correct term: "Statute of limitations."
Universal Pictures

Just one letter off, but so wrong. It is set in stone that a statute of limitations is a law that limits the time frame of charging someone with a crime or civil suit.

Correct term: "Statute of limitations."

20. "Imparticular" vs. "In particular."

In particular, imparticular is not a word.Correct term: "In particular."
Fox

In particular, imparticular is not a word.

Correct term: "In particular."

21. "Piece of quiet" vs. "Peace and quiet."

Even though we all need a piece of quiet every now and then, peace and quiet is actually correct.Correct term: "Peace and quiet."
youtube.com

Even though we all need a piece of quiet every now and then, peace and quiet is actually correct.

Correct term: "Peace and quiet."

22. "Cease and exist" vs. "Cease and desist."

If you don't want something to exist, tell it to cease and desist: a legal term meaning "stop it, now."Correct term: "Cease and desist."
New Line Cinema

If you don't want something to exist, tell it to cease and desist: a legal term meaning "stop it, now."

Correct term: "Cease and desist."

23. "Ghost is clear" vs. "Coast is clear."

Well, ghosts are more opaque than clear anyway. Use the clearly correct phrase, which means you are in no danger of being caught.Correct term: "Coast is clear."
Sony Pictures

Well, ghosts are more opaque than clear anyway. Use the clearly correct phrase, which means you are in no danger of being caught.

Correct term: "Coast is clear."

24. "All-timer's disease" vs. "Alzheimer's disease."

One of the all-time worst mispronunciations.Correct term: "Alzheimer's disease."
youtube.com

One of the all-time worst mispronunciations.

Correct term: "Alzheimer's disease."

25. "Global warning" vs. "Global warming."

You're getting warm, but you're still not even close.Correct term: "Global warming."
CW

You're getting warm, but you're still not even close.

Correct term: "Global warming."

26. "Rest to sure, everything is fine" vs. "Rest assured, everything is fine."

We can assure you, rest to sure is not fine.Correct term: "Rest assured."
CW

We can assure you, rest to sure is not fine.

Correct term: "Rest assured."

27. "Chester drawers" vs. "Chest of drawers."

We don't know who Chester is, but a chest of drawers is a dresser where you keep your drawers.Correct term: "Chest of drawers."
youtube.com

We don't know who Chester is, but a chest of drawers is a dresser where you keep your drawers.

Correct term: "Chest of drawers."

28. "Right from the gecko" vs. "Right from the get-go."

Blame Geico for this one. Right from the get-go means without delay or at the start.Correct term: "Right from the get-go."
CBC

Blame Geico for this one. Right from the get-go means without delay or at the start.

Correct term: "Right from the get-go."

29. "Point of you" vs. "Point of view."

Our point of view is that point of you is wrong.Correct term: "Point of view."
NBC

Our point of view is that point of you is wrong.

Correct term: "Point of view."

That's a wrap on today's lesson, folks. Well done.

20th Century Fox

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