Do You Hear Yourself Speak?

If you only knew me based on this blog, you may think that a lot of things bother me because I sometimes use this as a forum to talk about things that irk me. Fine – I’ll concede to that. And yes, this is another post like that. This one is about perhaps my greatest of pet peeves – grammatical errors and misspoken words and phrases. For one reason or another, it drives me crazy. I could easily write a post about misspellings and misuses of words (there, they’re, their), but I found this brilliant post on The Oatmeal, so I’ll just refer you to them. Here are a few examples of the screwed-up words and phrases (also known as malapropisms) that really make me grind my teeth. I’d love to hear some of yours, too…

CORRECT: ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: ALL INTENSIVE PURPOSES

The initial wording is reportedly “to all intents, constructions and purposes,” instead of all intents and purposes. It basically means under most usual circumstances, in most practical situations, or for purposes that are practical. “Intensive” implies the level of intensity of the purposes. I know, they’re kind of close, but you’re saying it wrong.

CORRECT: ET CETERA (ETC.)
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: ECK-CETTERA (ECT.)
There’s just no excuse for this one. The word is et cetera – it’s a Latin term meaning “and other things” or “and so forth.”

CORRECT: ACROSS
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT:
ACROSSED
“Guess who I came acrossed at the nude pep-rally today?” or “The puppy mill is acrossed the street from Wendy’s.” These are SO wrong. Acrossed does not exist. Quit adding that extra sound at the end of the word. Seriously. You sound stupid.

CORRECT: TOUGH ROW TO HOE
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: TOUGH ROAD TO HOE
Think about this one. Why in the hell would you be hoeing a road? Do you know what a hoe is (smart-asses need not answer this question)? It’s a gardening tool used to dig trenches in soil, uproot weeds, etc. So, go ahead and scrape a hoe along the asphalt – I guess that would be pretty tough.

CORRECT: FLESH OUT
THE SCREWED-UP WAY YOU SAY IT: FLUSH OUT
If you have an idea that is incomplete and needs more thinking and more substance, you need to flesh it out, not flush it out. Fleshing out an idea is like a sculptor giving flesh to a skeletal form. An incomplete idea is like the skeleton – you need to flesh it out to make it whole. Flushing it out refers to chasing it into the open like a criminal or a bird or a criminal bird.

I think I’ve made the world a little better place by educating the few of you that read my blog. Please know that if you use these words and phrases incorrectly around me, I will want to slam your head in a car door.

Anybody else have some they’d like to share?

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11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Becca Wikler said,

    expecially | especially and expresso | espresso

    those really make me crazy. actually, your whole list does. people just shouldn’t talk.

  2. 3

    Ryan Jerz said,

    Ecspecially. Dude that one drives me nuts. Could care less. Another that kills me. I categorize these things in the same place I categorize spelling and grammar errors. I think it all comes back to lack of attention to detail. You should see this in the same vein: http://iampaddy.com/spell/

  3. 5

    Brad Allured said,

    Fantastic! A few of those are on my list too, along with a some others…

    “Let me axe you something” – No, but I will let you ASK me.
    “Times them” – I forgot my stopwatch? I do have a calculator, so I could MULTIPLY those numbers for you.

    Strangely, that’s all I can think of right now. I hear them constantly, but i must block them out to save my mind from the trauma.

  4. 7

    Mark said,

    This symbol here, *, is an asterisk, not an asterix, asteriks, or however else you could mispronounce it.

    Good work sir.

  5. 8

    Peggy McDowell Oliver said,

    The following will make me pull my hair out:

    Her and I are friends. Him and me are a lot alike.

    He has prostrate problems. (Really? So you help him up off the ground?)

    “He was saying he was fine, and dah-dah-dah-dah-dah…” (What??? and why are there always five “dahs”?? Is that the rule?

    “I was like….and she was all like….and so they were all, like…” ?? Where are the real words? I know I’m showing my age here, but please!

    My husband goes crazy when people say, “I could care less.” Kinda scary when people don’t even think about what they’re saying.

  6. 9

    Peggy McDowell Oliver said,

    Oops sorry I jumped the gun. You were looking for just malapropisms. (Did I spell that right?) Sorry I messed up your nice blog! 🙂

  7. 10

    Cath said,

    How funny – I was just thinking about annoying malapropisms today and came across your blog. Good work! My pet hate is people saying “I’m not adverse to” instead of “I’m not averse to”. I know there are loads more but I can’t think of them now, which doubly annoys me!

    Cath, London

    • 11

      Mike McDowell said,

      Yes! Good one. It’s another one of those times that people swap out a word for a similar sounding word and it completely changes the meaning. I guess it goes to show that we use phrases because we’ve heard other people use them, and then we echo what we thought we heard. We’ve really got to do a better job of thinking about what it is were saying.


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