They’re, Their, There — Homophones and Their Sometimes Confusing Spellings

Homophones are words that have the same sound but different meanings as well as different spellings.

Sometimes, people confuse these spellings. You may have come across grammar Nazis of the Internet complaining of the misuse of they’re, their and there.

As I was thinking of the definitions of the three, I seemed to hear it to the tune of “Do Re Mi.”

“They’re, they are, a contraction,

Their, something belongs to them,

There, a place that is not here …”

Only, singing it and hearing it sung would not help much, would it? All the homophones sound the same. It would perhaps help if you could both hear it and visualize it simultaneously.

One blunder this “grammar Nazi” often comes across on the Internet is swapping of “it’s” and “its.” It’s is again a contraction of “it” and “is,” and “its” is the possessive of it.

It’s raining.


Photo by Heidi Sandstrom. on Unsplash

It’s raining. It is raining. By the way, isn’t that a cool umbrella, book lovers?

Its reign

Image by 4924546 on Pixabay

“It’s raining” and “Its reign.” How is that for double homophones?

Its reign over the amphibious world was a kind of benevolent dictatorship. Now, if only he could find a girl to kiss.

Some homophones come in triplets.

Pear


Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

Pair (of Boots)


Photo by Dakota Krupp on Unsplash

Pare


Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

To pare is to cut off the outer skin of something such as a fruit or vegetable.

Bear(s)


Photo by anthony renovato on Unsplash

Bare



Photo by Genessa Panainte on Unsplash

Just like there is “pear” and “pare,” there is also “bear” and bare.” Actually, I think the pretty lady above is wearing a bathing suit, but that is as bare as I dare go on this site.

I remember my older brothers telling me this rhyme when I was little.

“Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,

Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.

If Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,

And Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair,

Then Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?”

In that case, Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bare bear, don’t you think?

Here are some other homophones that are a bit more tricky. Recently, I read two different online articles that, although otherwise well-written, had a misspelling of palate. In both cases, the writer meant to say, “palate,” as in a person’s taste or appreciation of flavors. In one case, the writer spelled it as “pallet” and, in the other case, as “palette.”

Pallets


Photo by Harishan Kobalasingam on Unsplash

A pallet is a platform on which goods can be moved, stored, or stacked, especially with a forklift.

Palette


Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

A palette is a slab on which an artist mixes colors.

Palate

Photo by Zachariah Hagy on Unsplash

Palate can refer to either the roof of the mouth or to a person’s taste or appreciation of flavors. A wine critic may use the term in both senses.

How can you remember the differences?

I personally find it very easy to visualize words in their correct spellings, but I understand that not all brains are wired in a similar way.

Pallet — Perhaps, you can imagine the two Ls as stacking pallets turned vertical.

Palette — This word has a French origin and spelling, so you could imagine the stereotypical French artist painting “au plein air” with a beret on his head.

Palate — Perhaps, you could imagine the two As as something edible, like two sunny-side-up eggs with strips of bacon to the right of them, forming the stems of the As.

Sometimes, silly mnemonic devices are effective.

“Stationary” and “stationery” are another pair of homophones I often see confused. Something “stationary” is not moving. “Stationery” is writing paper.

Stationary (as in Stationary Bikes)

Photo by Trust Tru Katsande on Unsplash

Stationery


Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

How do you remember the difference? How about this? While it’s true that “stationary” can be used in other contexts besides “stationary bike,” think of cyclist Lance Armstrong. The first two letters of his last name, AR, are the same two letters in the beginning of that syllable that has a different spelling than its homophone. Armstrong, Ary.

An infographic illustrating a triplet and pair of homophones: pallet, palate, palette and stationary and stationery.

Guerilla


Photo by Kony Xyzx on Unsplash

Gorilla


Photo by Rob Schreckhise on Unsplash

There’s a big difference between “guerilla” and “gorilla,” although both would be pretty intimidating if you came across one in the jungle.

If you have a background in French or Spanish, it might be easier for you to remember the difference in spelling. “Guerre” is French for war, and the Spanish word for war is “guerra.”

Fawn


Photo by Jamie Kern on Unsplash

So, here we have a little “cuteness overload.” A fawn is a baby deer, but “fawn,” with this spelling, can also have three other meanings. It can refer to a light, brown color or, as a verb, can mean to court favor in a flattering manner or to show affection, (used eespecially of dogs.)

Faun

Image from Pixabay

A faun is a mythological creature that is half-man and half-goat. The creature has the upper half of a man and the lower half of a goat. Usually, the head is drawn with some goat-like qualities as well. The Greek god, Pan, is a faun, and Mr. Tumnus, of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is a faun. Faun is synonymous with satyr. Satyr is from the Greek, and “faun” is Roman.

You don’t want to confuse heroin with a heroine. Heroines need to stay clear of the other kind of heroin.

Heroin


Photo by Evgeniy Gorbenko on Unsplash

The picture above is rather a pretty one to represent a harmful, addictive drug, but heroin is an opiate that comes from poppies.

A heroine is a female protagonist or hero of a story.

Heroine


Photo by Kal Visuals on Unsplash

Cymbals


Photo by Brad Stallcup on Unsplash

Symbols

Image by Pixelkult on Pixabay

Remember the cymbals on a drum set and those icon symbols on your phone or computer have two different spellings, as do friar and fryer.

Friar

Image by pcdazero on PixabayI

Fryer


Photo by Lucas Mellec on Unsplash

I suppose a friar may do some cooking, so it’s possible he may do some frying? We call someone in that position a fry cook, and the appliance they use is a fryer.

Have any of these homophone pairs or triplets confused you in the past? Can you think of some other interesting homophones? Share in the comments.

If you like the study of interesting words and expressions, check out The Wonder of Words category of the blog.

Do You Put Hundreds and Thousands on Your Fairy Cake?

10 More British-American Language Differences

Do you put hundreds and thousands on your fairy cake? Or do you put sprinkles on your cupcake? Do you eat candy floss or cotton candy? If you said “Yes”‘ to the first choices, you are probably from the U.K. (or perhaps from Australia,) and if you said, “Yes,” to the second, you are likely from the U.S.

It is fun and sometimes practical to study the differences. If English is not your first language, and you plan to travel to either the U.K. or the U.S., it might be helpful to be aware of these language differences. Here is an American and British English words list with some explanation.

1. Arugula vs. Rocket

Photo by Jose Soriano on Unsplash

I didn’t know about this difference until somewhat recently when I saw the British term “rocket” on an Australian food blogger’s site. I also had assumed until recently that arugula was an Italian term and that Americans borrowed it from the Italians. It’s not. The Italian term for arugula is “rucola.” Experts believe the word arugula comes from a mispronunciation of an Italian dialect for the word. The Calabrian dialect for the word is “aruculu.”

2. Bacon vs. Rashers

Photo by Dan Russo on Unsplash

Rashers is really more of a term for the slice of bacon, although I have read the term “rashers,” used alone, referring to bacon, rather than “rashers of bacon.” The best explanation I found online for the term is that “rasher” may come from a Middle English word, “rash,” meaning to cut. Sound-wise, rashers makes me think of “rations,” which, by association, makes me think of a stricter diet instead of feasting.

3. Like vs. Fancy

Photo by Yuriy Bogdanov on Unsplash

As an American, I had to watch quite a bit of British TV before I picked up on this little language nuance. It seems British use this term for when someone has romantic interest in someone else. “He fancies her” or “She fancies him.” Americans don’t seem to have such a specific expression. Aside from wording it as, “He is interested in her,” we tend to say, “He likes her.” “Like,” of course, has more than one meaning and can be used to mean liking in friendship or liking as in romantic interest. This can lead to somewhat silly and awkward junior high expressions as in, “He doesn’t just like her. He like likes her.” Maybe, we Americans should borrow the British expression?

4. Nice vs. Lovely


Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Both Americans and British use both terms, “lovely” and “nice.” The difference I’ve noticed is more relating to the frequency in which we use the words. I’ve noticed Brits use the word “lovely” in a lot of the contexts where Americans are more likely to use the word nice: a lovely day, lovely weather, a lovely person, etc. American men, I think, find the word “lovely” to be less than perfectly macho and rarely use it except to occasionally describe a special woman. American women say “lovely” a bit more but are still more likely to use the word “nice.”

5. Pants vs. Trousers


Photo by Lacey Raper on Unsplash

Trousers is not an unfamiliar word for Americans, but we don’t use it much. We can buy pants at the store that are labelled by American clothing companies as trousers, but, in ordinary conversation, we usually call them pants. The British seem to prefer the term, “trousers.”

A graphic for American and British English words list, showing sprinkles/hundreds-and-thousands
American and British English words list

6. Checkers vs. Draughts


Photo by Trent Jackson on Unsplash

Even some games go by different names in the U.S. and in the U.K., like checkers and draughts (pronounced like drafts.) American linguist, Lynne Murphy, says in her blog Separated by a Common Language, “The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us that draughts is related to dragon and goes back to 1400.” Well, that is interesting, but that raises other questions for me. Maybe, if you combine the draughts/dragons with the queens, kings and knights of chess, you have the makings of some sort of fairy tale. The term “checkers” is related to chess, from the Middle English exchequer. From chessboard came “chequered,” meaning marked like a chessboard.

7. Attorney-at-law vs. Solicitor

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

In the U.K., lawyers are barristers or solicitors. Barristers can plead a case in open court and appear at the bar. Solicitors may conduct litigation in court but are not permitted to plead cases in open court. Barristers deal with clients indirectly through a solicitor. The attorney-at-law is the U.S. equivalent for solicitor.

8. Pharmacist vs. Chemist


Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

I’m an American fan of British Golden Age mysteries, and the word chemist has come up a lot in that context. It took me a while to realize chemist was the British term for pharmacist. A pharmacist certainly is a kind of chemist, but there are other sorts of chemists in different fields of chemistry. This makes me wonder if this term causes any confusion for the Brits. Would a Brit in some other field of chemistry have to use some extra labels or terms to explain his profession so that he is not confused with a pharmacist? If you live in an area where British English is spoken, please, share your comment.

9. Cotton candy vs. Candyfloss


Photo by Yarden on Unsplash

Cotton candy and candy floss both seem like sensible terms for this interestingly textured sweet. The fluffy shape and texture of the candy, as a whole, is like cotton, but the fibrous threads of sugar which make up the candy are like floss. Take the word “candy” out of either name, and neither name seems appealing to the palate, does it?

10. Cupcake vs. Fairy cake


Photo by Jennie Brown on Unsplash

American cupcakes and British fairy cakes are practically synonymous but there are a few differences. The two cultures have language differences and also some different food preferences and traditions. Fairy cakes are a bit smaller than cupcakes. They are lighter, spongier cakes and topped with a thin glace icing rather than buttercream or cream cheese frosting. The Brits call them fairy cakes, because, traditionally, the top was cut off and split, and the center was filled. The split top was placed on either side of the center, resembling fairy wings.

11. Sprinkles vs. Hundreds-and-Thousands


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Hundreds-and-thousands seems to refer to how uncountable these colored bits of sugar are. Sprinkles, are, well, sprinkled. As an American, I think hundreds-and-thousands seems like a lot of extra syllable-bles. I also wonder what sort of reaction I would get if I went to an ice cream parlor near me and asked for hundreds-and-thousands on my ice cream. The server might ask “Of what?” and think I’m very greedy. Actually, the owner of one ice cream parlor near me is from the U.K. I think that man would be charmed if I did this.

I hope you enjoyed this American and British English words list. Would you like to see more like this?

This List of Southern Expressions Will Have You Grinnin’ Like a Possum Eatin’ a Sweet Tater

These Southern

  1. If she had an idea, it would die of loneliness. 

thinkingskeleton
Photo by Matthew Schwartz on Unsplash

I take it that the idea would just be rattling around in an otherwise empty cranium, without any companions.

2. It is as useless as a screen door in a submarine.

insideofasubmarine
Photo by Heng Films on Unsplash

Now, that’s pretty useless … in fact, a bit worse than merely useless.

3. Grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a sweet tater

grinningwoman
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Now, that’s a sight I’ve never seen, but this pumpkin-eating porcupine below is mighty pleased … so, I suppose it’s similar.

4. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! (To show surprise)

stackofbiscuits
Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

Do I have to? And are you quite sure you want me to do that?

5. He’s so skinny, if he stood sideways and stuck his tongue out, he’d look like a zipper.

zipper
Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash

This one is so much more fun than “thin as a rail” or “thin as a toothpick.” When photographing your thin friend, ask him to pose as a zipper.

6. I’m prouder of that than a pup with his first flea.

runningpuppy
Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

Pedigree, dog show awards, obedience school certificates, maybe even heroism … all reasons for a pup to be proud, but, apparently, all it takes is a flea.

7. I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound polecat.

Striped_Skunk_Big_Bend_NP
Diotime1 (Diotime) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I admit that I would have to be pretty famished for that to sound like a good snack.

8. Scarcer than deviled eggs after a church picnic.

Thanksgiving 2009 at Isabella and Cris
Michele Ursino [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Those are pretty scarce after a church picnic … and after a family gathering too. (My sister-in-law makes great ones.)

9. He was so tall he could hunt geese with a rake.

hunters
Photo by Rhett Noonan on Unsplash

A guy’s got to be pretty tall to sweep a goose out of the sky with a rake. If the goose happens to be on the ground; however, hunting with a rake is not quite as impressive.

10. Slicker than snot on a goat’s glass eye

Mountain_goat_Stuffed_specimen
Momotarou2012 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Okay, I understand that the glass eye belongs to a taxidermied goat like the one above from the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. My next question is, “How often does a goat’s glass eye get snot on it?” Maybe, we shouldn’t overthink that one.

11. So deep in jail he’ll have to be fed beans with a slingshot

jail
Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash

I imagine the person with slingshot would have to have very good aim.

12. There’s a stump in a Louisiana swamp with a higher IQ. 

swamp
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

This one goes a bit further than expressions like “dumb as a box of rocks.” The person in question is not as dumb as a stump, but the stump is actually a bit more intelligent.

13. He has the personality of a dishrag.

dishrags
Photo by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash

 

I’ve never met a particularly sanguine dishrag, have you? Note to self: don’t give a Southerner a reason to insult me.

14. We’re closer than two roaches on a bacon bit.

bacon

Well, that’s just gross, so enjoy this photo of frying bacon, which is not at all gross. Also, I’d rather not be compared to a roach even as a token of friendship, thank you.

15. This is more fun than a sackful of kittens.

kittens
Photo by Jari Hytonen on Unsplash

I’m not sure I like the idea of a sackful of kittens, but a basketful is sure fun.

Do you like unique and quirky expressions?

Andy Westin, the narrator of my Jack Donegal Mysteries, has a few of his own.

Here’s what some reviewers have said —

“Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery is fun, engaging and delightfully entertaining, you won’t want to put it down! Susan Joy Clark pens a mystery full of comedic escapades. The bungling Mr. Magoo combines with the eccentricity of Columbo in the main character of Jack Donegal. Clark’s narrative is witty, comical and adventuresome. The writing style is artfully imaginative, using amusing and uncanny descriptions. The point of view is written from the perspective of the side-kick, which is rare, but really works! The antics of the characters keep the action moving quickly.” — Cheryl E. Rodriguez

“Andy is the consummate narrator who, while being completely authentic and original in his own right, agreeably reminded me at times of Nero Wolfe’s able and wisecracking sidekick, Archie Goodwin. Clark’s story is breezy, fun and fast-paced, and her plot is inspired. Jack and Andy are two of the most intriguing private eyes I’ve come across in quite some time, and I can’t wait until their creator conjures up another irresistible conundrum for them to play with. Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery, Book 1, is most highly recommended.” — Jack Magnus

“Action Men with Silly Putty is a bizarre, hilarious and memorable read that should not be missed! When I read the description of Action Men with Silly Putty, I was hooked right away thanks to the bizarre but funny nature of it. I love stories with a twist, and I love even more when they combine action with humor, whenever I read books like this I imagine it as a funny detective drama on tv and Action Men with Silly Putty could undoubtedly be this! When I began to read Action Men with Silly Putty, I knew straight away that the story would deliver and fulfill my expectations and know that I have finished the book I can write that it did!” — Red Headed Book Lover Blog

See it on Amazon.

 

The Day I Met Yogi Berra, Plus 10 Yogi Berrisms

Blue Wood

Yogi_Berra_1956
By Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, I ran into Yogi Berra in an unlikely place … in a line at my pharmacy. I’m a New Jerseyan, and I knew he lived somewhere locally. I didn’t realize just how local he was. He lived at that time in a town neighboring mine, Montclair, where Montclair State University has a stadium and museum named for him.

Yogi_Berra_Museum_and_Learning_Center_Entrance
Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, By ikon.5 Architects [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When I first saw Mr. Berra in the pharmacy line, I wasn’t quite sure it was him, but I certainly thought it was a man who resembled him. I kept looking at him and wondering. At the time, I was seeing Mr. Berra in a few TV commercials for Entenmann’s cookies — “The box is always open until it’s closed” — and for a local car dealership. I thought perhaps I was mistaken, and this gentleman in the line just happened to have similar physical characteristics and also just happened to be wearing a Yankee baseball cap. The pharmacists behind the counter sure seemed excited to see him and were giving him the VIP treatment, bumping him to the front of the line. I knew for sure I had correctly identified him when I saw his prescription bag, and the name label, “Berra, Lawrence P.”

For a moment or two, I wondered if I should try and get an autograph for my oldest brother who is a big Yankee fan, but then I was too shy and didn’t want Mr. Berra to feel pestered. I expect though, that if I had pestered him, he would have reacted graciously.

It’s an interesting memory of running into a famous person in an unlikely place.

Here is a list of 10 unusual confused sayings — Yogi Berrisms — attributed to the player.

  1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
forkintheroad
Photo by Jens Leslie on Unsplash

Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by.” Yogi says to just take it, both roads apparently … unless he means that if you happen to see a piece of tined silverware in the middle of the road, you should pick it up and take it home.

2. A nickel isn’t worth a dime today.

piggybank
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This might make a little more sense if it was, “A nickel isn’t worth a penny today,” or even, “A nickel isn’t worth a nickel today.” A nickel was never worth a dime, and if it was, that sure would be handy.

3. “You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” 

funeralchairs
Photo by Cinematic Imagery on Unsplash

Hhmmm… If people, whose funerals I have attended in the past, come to mine, I suppose I won’t know it, but a few other people might be freaked out.

4. “The future ain’t what it used to be.” 

futuristicbuildings
Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

I can think of a sense in which this is true. The idea of what the future will look like has changed from past times. Back in the ’80s, I watched a movie, made in the ’60s, supposedly set in a far future time. The only problem was, this fictional future involved already outdated technology, giant clunky early computers.

5. “You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

hitchhiker
Photo by Atlas Green on Unsplash

So, it’s possible that I may never arrive at some mysterious, unknown location and end up in an entirely different unknown location instead? Gotcha.

6. “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

froginpond
Photo by Grace Evans on Unsplash

I think the word you are searching for, Mr. Berra, is ambidextrous. I do know some guys who are amphibious … Kermit the Frog, Mr. Toad, Michigan J. Frog, Crazy Frog …

7. “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

Napoleonthrone
Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

I think we are confusing our politicians here.

 

8. “Baseball is 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

baseballsinhand
Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash

I was an English major, not a math major, but I still think those are some interesting numbers.

9. “You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”

Tomatomushroompizza
Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash

So, you’re saying that if I cut the pizza in fewer pieces, I’m eating less? This is good to know.

Some of these quotes may be disputed or slightly changed from the original, and this perfectly explains the last Yogi Berrism.

10. “I never said most of the things I said.”

1953_Bowman_Yogi_Berra
By Bowman Gum (Heritage Auctions) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I get you, Mr. Berra. I get you. 

“You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and 14 Other Confused Expressions

Blue Wood

An eggcorn is a word or phrase that is misheard or misinterpreted. In eggcorns, words might be replaced with sound-alike words that may take on a different meaning. The word eggcorn itself comes from the mishearing of acorn.

When I was a college student, I heard some fellow students talking about guys “scamming” girls from the mezzanine in the cafeteria. They didn’t mean that the guys were trying to pull off cons. They meant they were scanning the crowd for female persons of interest.

I tend to think that the phrase “crank call” is also an eggcorn for “prank call.” “Crank call” is used to mean “prank call,” but it makes less sense. In the days of rotary phones, you might be said to be cranking something but not any more than you would for an ordinary call. Crank calls also are not instigated necessarily by old cranky people. They are pranks.

Here are some other common eggcorns.

  1. If you think …, you have another thing coming.
Guythinking
Photo by Jake Young on Unsplash

I heard this expression wrong myself for years. I may have heard it wrong, but it’s also possible people around me were saying the expression wrong. When I first saw the expression, “you have another think coming,” written out, I thought, “That makes a lot more sense.”

You can understand how it’s possible to hear it wrong, especially as “think” isn’t exactly grammatical in the phrase.

2. Pass mustard

yellowmustard
Photo by Pedro Ribeiro on Unsplash

If you want to put a condiment on your hot dog and say, “Please, pass the mustard,” that would be correct, but, if you say, “The soldier passed mustard,” that would be wrong.

“Pass musters” goes back to the 1570s and was used for soldiers passing review. Dictionary.com defines “muster” as “an assembling of troops or persons for formal inspection or other purposes.” Today, the phrase might be used for someone passing approval in other contexts.

3. All intensive purposes

intensivecare
Photo by Ali Yayha on Unsplash

This phrase is heard instead of “all intents and purposes.” Are some purposes particularly intensive? A person can be in an Intensive Care unit of a hospital, and I suppose doctors and nurses may have “intensive purposes” when saving a patient’s life. Intensive means “relating to or characterized by intensity.”

The correct phrase, “for all intents and purposes” has its roots in 16th century English law. It is used to mean “virtually” or “for all practical purposes.”

4. It’s a doggy dog world.

dogsandwalker
Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

To me, as a dog lover, “It’s a doggy dog world,” sounds like a very positive expression like “Life is a bowl of cherries.” This is an eggcorn. The original expression, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world” is much more negative, suggesting a survival of the fittest situation. There are other negative expressions concerning dogs such as “working like a dog,” so perhaps, “It’s a doggy dog world” could also sound negative in certain contexts. I used the eggcorn as a blog category, because, for cheerful posts about our canine friends, the eggcorn sounds much more positive.

5. pre-Madonna

Madonnawannabe
Photo by Finding Dan/Dan Grimwis on Unsplash

The phrase “prima donna” is borrowed from Italian and literally means “first lady.” In opera, a prima donna is the leading lady of the opera. In modern times, it’s come to take on other meanings referring to a female singer, not necessarily in opera. It can also refer to the demanding and narcissistic behaviors of a “prima donna.”

It’s funny how the other expression was misheard. Madonna is certainly a well-known female singer. To me, pre-Madonna seems to make more sense as the name of a musical period than the name of a personality. We have a postmodern period after all. We’ve had quite a few musical periods that are all pre-Madonna.

6. Nip it in the butt

catbutt
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The original phrase is “nip it in the bud.” To nip something in the bud is to end it before it has a chance to grow. “Nip it in the butt” makes a certain kind of sense but is not really the same in meaning. Well, it’s possible for butts to be nipped. Cartoons have told us this for years. The cat butt above looks like a nice target some dogs may want to nip.

7. Out of bounce

soccerball
Photo by Wuilmar Matias-Morales

This is an interesting one. A ball can go “out of bounds” in a game, and I suppose that, often, when the ball goes out of bounds, it is also out of bounce at some point.

8. To hell in a handbag

openpurse
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

This is an interesting one. The first phrase is “to hell in a handbasket.” One variation makes just as much sense as the other. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that either a handbasket or a handbag are a special conveyance to hell. It is nicely alliterated. World Wide Words writes, “Some writers have read into this version that it refers to execution by the guillotine, in which the image — as in the terror associated with the French Revolution — is of the executed person’s head dropping into a basket.”

The phrase today isn’t always used to describe a person’s spiritual plight but a way of stating that society or the situation is deteriorating, as in, “Everything’s going to hell in a handbasket.”

9. Ice tea

icedtea
Photo by baby qb on Unsplash

Although this one is not as amusing as some of the others listed, it is one that I hear. The final D in “iced” must not be too audible. “Iced” makes more sense as an adjective than “ice.”

10. Old timers disease

oldtimer
Photo by Alex Harvey on Unsplash

Well, it is the old timers who are prone to dementia, but the real name for the illness is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer who made discoveries about the disease in 1906. The “Alz” in Alzheimer does mean “old” in German language, but Alzheimer is not synonymous with old timer. The name Alzheimer comes from the place name “Alzheim” which means “old hamlet.”

11. Scandally clad

SaloonGirl
Photo by Zillah215 on Flickr

Very interesting. The real phrase is “scantily clad” as in, uh, not wearing much. Of course, “scantily clad” can sometimes be tied with scandal. Saloon girls of the Old West were considered to be scandalous and could also be somewhat scantily clad, especially for the time. Now, it’s possible to be much more scantily clad without seeming scandalous to most. Just think of the difference between now and then and what is acceptable for beachwear!

12. Take it for granite

granitecounters
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

To take something for granted is to fail to appreciate that thing. Granite is a type of stone. I’m not sure how you can take something for granite.

“Are those counters stone?”

“No, they’re formica.”

“Oh, I took it for granite.”

Oh dear. That was a “Dad joke,” wasn’t it? Sorry, not sorry.

13. Takes two to tangle

Tango
Photo by Christian Newman on Unsplash

It definitely takes a partner to tango, but technically, you need another item or thing to tangle too. Tango dancers also seem to get themselves in a tangle. Even so, the real phrase is “It takes two to tango.”

14. Very close veins

veins
Photo by Rob Swatski on Unsplash

This is heard in place of varicose veins. Is it possible for veins to be very close? I suppose.

15. World Wind Tour

sailorgirl
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I understand what a whirlwind tour is and also a world tour, but what is a world wind tour? Perhaps, it is circumnavigating the globe on a sailboat.