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Most Common Misused and Misspelled Phrases and Expressions in English

Have you heard people use expressions and never stopped to think. Many expressions used in the English language are horrifically misused. This is due to English being incredibly diverse and complicated.

Below is a list of the most common of the mis-quoted or mis-spelled phrases and expressions in English.

Free Rein, Fee Reign

With this misused phrase it can be very easy to see why people may get confused. Saying free reign may conjure up ideas of a King or Queen ruling how they wish. But, in actual fact, the term is derived from a time when Horses were used as a main form of transport, and when terrain got tricky free rein was given to the horses (I.E. the reins were not used) so that the horse could navigate the difficulty without interference.

One Fell Swoop, One Foul Swoop

What I can only conclude must be a mis-quotation, One Fell swoop was originally said by Macduff from Macbeth and is not one foul swoop. Why would a swoop be foul or dirty, when it could be deadly or ferocious (Fell).

Pored over, Poured over

This is a pure classic example. The verb To pour mean to pour a liquid from a vessel. Hence, why would you want to pour water (or else) over anything you may wish to read or work on? It may have derived from poring over books in the way one may pour water completely over an object. Damn Homophones! To Pore means to “Be absorbed in the reading or study.”

A Moot Point, A Mute Point

With this one, i find it particularly interesting how people can go around using the term “Mute point” without thinking about it. A Moot point is a debatable point over which two sides must argue. Why then, would you want the point to be muted and not hear what anyone has to say on the matter?

Sleight Of Hand, Slight Of Hand

The use of Sleight of hand is used in magic, and involves dexterity, speed and skill on the part of the magician. I’m certain if you were to describe the magician, you would not be suggesting that he had very slender hands.

On tenter Hooks, On Tender Hooks

Tenter Hooks were used by butcher to hang meat up to allow blood to drain from them, usually by suspending the meat from the ceiling. When a person is on tenter hooks they mean they are in suspense. I very much doubt they are implying some kind of sympathetic hooks.

Just deserts, Just Desserts

Just Deserts sounds absurd doesn’t it? Why would someone be getting a huge sandy, dry area of the word. Surely someone should be getting their just desserts – a nice big ice cream with all the sprinkles? Well in actual fact, Deserts also means an “entitlement to be awarded or punished”. Makes much more sense now…eh?

Albeit, All Be It

Not so much a mistaken word, just an lack of comprehension that this is in fact one word. Albeit, not all be it.

Wreak havoc, Wreck Havoc

(Some people may say reek havoc).

Ask yourself, How is Havoc related in anyway to a ship breaking apart or sinking – or indeed the havoc smelling bad. Wreaking havoc is to inflict or cause something to happen, in the same way one might Wreak his revenge.

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