10 Misconceptions About Common Sayings

It is no secret that I love language and all things related it to. Also, being a bit of a pedant, I love to share titbits of information about words, phrases, and language in general. Therefore, I have put together a list of misconceptions (one of my favorite types of list) about common sayings. Some involve spelling errors, while others involve conception or comprehension errors. Be sure to tell us your favorite (and by that I mean most hated) common errors in the comments.

10 Scot Free

Dictionary of Word Ori... John Ayto Best Price: $6.67 Buy New $10.65 (as of 05:55 EST - Details) Common Saying: To get off scot free

Many people think that this saying refers to Scottish people being tight with money – hence something being free, but in fact the word “scot” is an old Norse word which means “payment” – specifically a payment made to a landlord or sheriff. So this phrase – while meaning what most people think it means, has no connection to the Scottish people – it just means to get off without having to pay.

9 Fit as a Fiddle

Common Saying: As fit as a fiddle

This is another phrase where a single word has confused people – “fit” in the context of this saying does not mean “healthy” which is a 19th century definition. Its original meaning was “suitable” – and it is still used in that context in the sentence “fit for a king”. As fit as a fiddle means “as appropriate as can be” – not “in excellent health”. The first use of the phrase, incidentally, was in the 16th century Why Do We Say? The Sto... Castle Books Best Price: $0.10 Buy New $5.00 (as of 06:15 EST - Details) and it was originally “as right as a fiddle”.

8 Another Thing Coming

Common Saying: If you think that, you have another thing coming

This is a complete aberration of the original phrase because of the sound of English. The correct phrase is “if you think that, you have another think coming” – in other words, “what you think is wrong so think again”. Because the “k” in “think” often ends up silent when saying “think coming” people have changed the phrase over time. Of course, “another thing coming” makes no sense at all. To illustrate how global this error is, when you google “another thing coming” it returns 139,000 results; when you google “another think coming” it returns a mere 39,000 results.

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