Office Debate of Commonly Used Phrases

The BAMily was quite divided this week when a “heated” (read: silly) debate broke out over the phrase “all downhill from here.” Half of the team was convinced that it meant “things can only get worse,” while the other half insisted that the definition was positive, like “things are so much easier because we’re going downhill.”

So like any good professionals in the new millennium, we looked it up. Apparently both definitions are right. Which, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of the phrase. Why have a phrase that has two meanings, both of which are opposite of one another?

A quick Google search of commonly misused phrases brought up an article from Inc. Magazine, “20 Embarrassing Phrases Even Smart People Misuse.” Some of these phrases tripped up even the smartest of cookies, with incorrect spellings on websites for Harvard, Yale and Oxford Universities! Check out some of the phrases included in the article below:

  • First-come, first-served: Most leave off the ‘d’, which is the most important part. That makes the phrase mean that the first people to arrive will be the first to be served. Without it, the phrase indicates that the first to arrive has to serve those who follow. Definitely not as fun for prompt people like myself.
  • I couldn’t care less: This one gets messed up all the time. The intention is to say that you don’t have any more care. However, most people say “I could care less,” which means the exact opposite!
  • Make do: It’s commonly written incorrectly as “make due,” which would mean owed. This doesn’t really make sense. “Make do,” on the other hand, means to make something sufficient.

Don’t get caught in the same trap! What are some common words and phrases over which you’ve stumbled?

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