Snapshots of a… Crazy Kinda Life

The Misadventures of Messie Jessie

The Pet Peeve Chronicles: Misuse of words in common expressions April 20, 2011

As you may or may not already know, this Miss Messie Jessie is a word hound. I love me some good verbiage.

One thing that really frosts my cookies is when people use one word to express a point when they really should have used another word entirely.

It happens frequently enough that I dare say it’s become cliché.

This annoys me so much that I actually correct total strangers on proper word usage. You may think I’m joking. I am not.

Below are a few examples that really get my goat (that, by the way, is both an idiom and a cliché). We all think we know what these phrases convey… but do we really?


“I could care less.”

What you think you’re saying: “Look, I know Joanne says she has a problem with the way I cut her hair, but month after month she keeps coming back. Her opinion means so little to me that I am completely indifferent to the whole thing.”

What you’re really saying: “Joanne’s opinion of my hair cutting skills bothers the crap out of me. My feelings are hurt and I wish I cared a lot less about this situation than I do.”

The word you should have used: “couldn’t”.


“Peruse this at your leisure.”

What you think you’re saying: “Hey, take a few minutes to glance over my novella when you get a chance”.

What you’re really saying: “When you have a load of extra time on your hands, I’d really like you to carefully scrutinize my novella in great detail.”

 The word you should have used: “browse”.


“We’ve got to flush out our goals on this project.”

What you think you’re saying: “We’ve got to elaborate on our objectives or our bosses are going to start to wonder what the heck we’ve been doing around here for the last six months.”

What’s you’re really saying: “We’ve got to get this animal or criminal out of hiding –possibly by use of water or another liquid—even though an animal or criminal has absolutely nothing to do with this project.”

The word you should have used: “flesh”.


“I was humbled by your letter of recommendation.”

What you think you’re saying: “The recommendation you wrote for me was so full of accolade and compliment that I am glowing with pride.”

What you’re really saying: “I am humiliated by your letter, and feel as though my character has been seriously degraded because of it. I am so ashamed by what you wrote that I will most likely not ask you for a recommendation ever again.”

The word you should have used: “honored”.


So there they are. Anyone got any others?


5 Responses to “The Pet Peeve Chronicles: Misuse of words in common expressions”

  1. Mama G Says:

    I am particularly bothered by the use of “me”, as in “Me and Tillie took out the trash.” It should be “Tillie and I took out the trash.” Just about everyone says this incorrectly…even on TV. Not sure if this improper use of grammar is an example of what you were looking for, but its a pet-peeve with me.

  2. bucaki Says:

    Excellent blog by the way . Very Nice Lay out and design . Very good execution on this on mate .

  3. David Levine Says:

    irregardless…I hate irregardless.

    C’mon people. It’s REGARDLESS!!

  4. Dave- good one!

    By the way, Maria Shriver, after news of Arnold’s illegitimate child broke today, said, “I am humbled by the love and support.”
    So I guess she’s feeling totally chastened and demeaned by those who are in her corner.

  5. Peter Says:

    How about “I could care less — but it wouldn’t be easy!”? That makes sense.

    “A large amount of people” has become a popular phrase. My response to that is “How many scoops of people are we talking about here?”

    What about “flaunt” and “flout”? Same difference? Not to my ears.

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