English is not the easiest language, and it’s full of words that make English speakers and writers say “WTF?!” But nothing–nothing!– makes writers and editors say “WTF?!” more than misused words and phrases.
With the dawn of social media, everyone can publish their own content. Most of the time, I think this is a great thing. But once in a while (and sadly, it’s happening more often lately) I see phrases misused and I start to think maybe there should be a job for people who know language and can fix all the errors on social media. (Wait, there is such a job–it’s an editor, people. Hire one.)
Anyway, there are a few phrase and word usage errors that really make me twitch, and because I, too, publish my own content, I now have the forum to share them with the world. Yay social media! Ladies and gentlemums, (see what I did there?) I give you: WTF Words.
We’ll start with two words and phrases that have been driving me to the brink of howling insanity:
“Nip it in the bud.” To nip something in the bud is to cut it off before it blooms. It’s very simple and makes perfect sense to me, even though I have no gardening skill whatsoever and am, in fact, the slightly ashamed possessor of a black thumb inherited from my mother. So I don’t understand why people insist on saying “Nip it in the butt.” Um, what? Flowers don’t have butts. And don’t try to defend the mistake and say, “Oh, I meant ‘kick it in the butt,’ like “get it going.’” If you meant “kick it in the butt,” then you would have said, “kick it in the butt.” You were just saying it wrong. Accept the ridicule that is your due.
“Foment revolution.” With political season upon us, this phrase is getting a lot of play, except people like to say “ferment revolution” instead. Oh, you were “fermenting” revolution? You were placing it in oak barrels to age like a fine wine? Are you also building a copper still in your kitchen or a brewery in your basement so you can “ferment” discord? No, the word is foment. Maybe put down your political signs and read a book.
Those are just two of the misused words and phrases that make me say, “WTF?!” What are yours?