Say What?

bigstock-Confused-young-businesswoman-s-30415187by Kat Freestone

The English language is constantly evolving. Old phrases fade away over time, new words are added to the dictionary and even pronunciations change. While this is the natural progression of speech, it’s interesting to note some common “mistakes” have now become the norm. Here are a few of our favorites.

What we say: you have another thing coming
What we mean: you have another think coming

Originally, this phrase meant “you’re wrong if you think that, and you have another think (or thought) coming.” Another thing coming came from a mispronunciation that’s stuck ever since.

What we say: hi-archy
What we mean: hierarchy

That extra syllable must be a pain, because we often leave it out. This one should be pronounced “higher archy,” not “high archy.”

What we say: for all intensive purposes
What we mean: for all intents and purposes

It’s a mistake so common that it’s replaced the original. Intensive means rigorous or intense — an interesting substitute for a phrase that’s supposed to describe something practical.

What we say: irregardless
What we mean: regardless

One of the more controversial mixups. Technically, any word with a “-less” attached to it means “without,” so there’s no need to repeat the same sentiment with an “ir-”. However, this word has become so common that the dictionary now lists it as a substitute for regardless!

What we say: nother
What we mean: other

“It’s like we’re creating a whole nother language!” It’s easy to confuse the words “an other” by combining them, but really they should stay separate.

What we say: stomp
What we mean: stamp

Stamps got their name because they were originally stamped onto a letter. You stamp — not stomp —your feet, too.

What we say: free reign
What we mean: free rein

While these two spellings essentially mean the same thing, the common thinking is that one who has “free reign” has the freedom of a supreme ruler. Really, the phrase comes from horse and buggy days when drivers would relax a horse’s reins to allow it more freedom.

What we say: to wreck havoc
What we mean: to wreak havoc

If you say, “He wrecked havoc!” it means he destroyed it. What you mean to say is he wreaked havoc, or caused it to happen. In this case, there’s definitely a difference!

What we say: The fish was literally as big as a house
What we mean: The fish seemed as big as a house

Literally means actually. If the fish was literally as big as a house, we’re probably experiencing an alien invasion. What we mean to say is “as if” or “seemed,” which shows that the statement shouldn’t be taken, well, literally.


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