How quotes get misquoted with time

February 26th, 2009 - 7:29 pm ICT by admin  

London, Feb 26 (ANI): One’s not ‘on tender hooks’ when he or she is anxious, because the correct phrase for this condition is ‘on tenterhooks’- this and other similar sentences have been misquoted for long because people misheard them in the beginning itself.

And now, a poll of 1, 000 people by hearing aid retailer Amplifon has come up with the top misquotes in Britain.

“Technically these are called malapropisms. But we think most people simply mishear them and repeat their mistake over and over again,” The Sun quoted Mark Holmes, from Amplifon as saying.

Some of the common mistakes Britons do while using popular phrases are:

What they say: Damp squid

What they mean: Damp squib

A squib is an explosive device once used to ignite gunpowder in cannons. Squibs were originally made from parchment and sealed with wax. If they got damp, they would fizzle out or not light at all, hence meaning a disappointing performance.

What they say: On tender hooks

What they mean: On tenterhooks

Tenters were wooden frames used in the medieval times to make cloth. In order to stop the washed weave from shrinking during drying, it would be stretched on the frame and secured in place by hooks nailed into the wood. By the 18th century the term “on tenterhooks” described being in a state of suspense or anxiety.

What they say: Nip it in the butt

What they mean: Nip it in the bud

Put a stop to something while it is still in its early development is what refers to nip it in the bud, like a young rose.

What they say: Mute point

What they mean: Moot point

A “moot” point, is something open for debate. It links back to medieval England when judicial assemblies were called mots or motes.

What they say: One foul swoop

What they mean: One fell swoop

“One fell swoop” comes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and means all at once. It is one of many phrases from the Bard that is misquoted.

What they say: All that glitters is not gold

What they mean: All that glisters is not gold

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice the phrase is uttered by the Prince of Morocco. It means a showy article may not necessarily be valuable.

What they say: Batting down the hatches

What they mean: Batten down the hatches

The phrase was originally a nautical one. A batten is a strip of wood nailed across the hatch to keep it watertight in stormy weather.

What they say: Find a penny, pick it up

What they mean: See a pin, pick it up

Pins were expensive in the Middle Ages when the expression came into use. It appears in early nursery rhymes. (ANI)

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