Given my career path and my college degrees, I give a couple shits about the English language and all the nuances that come along with it. I am that friend on Facebook that will die a little inside when you say your going to the store over their, witch you hate. I usually don’t correct you, though, because it happens way too often and I can’t be everyone’s personal Grammar Nazi! You gotta pay me for that! Gosh!
So, instead, I want to educate my smart Lyssters. Because if you’re here, that means you understand the importance of continually bettering yourself, and, well, I said I’d help you do that. So here we are.
Today we’re going over 3 commonly misused phrases in American slang. I have been more conscious about idioms lately because I’ve started to notice just how many people use them incorrectly. For our first phrase, let’s backtrack to my opening sentence in this blog post…
“I give a couple shits about the English language”
Misused Phrase #1: I could give two shits
What you think it means: You care so little about something that you wouldn’t mind if it disappeared forever, kind of like how I feel about Instagram Stories.
What it actually means: You do care about it, because you could give some shits about it. Which is why I could give some shits about the English language. It’s my shit.
The correct phrase: I couldn’t give two shits.
See, you care so little that you won’t even bother giving your shits. This phrase is misused/used exactly like “I could/couldn’t care less,” but we’re all adults here, so I chose the dirtier version.
Misused Phrase #2: Chock it up to…
What you think it means: You’re assigning reason to something, like x happened because of y, so you’re “chocking it up to” y.
What it actually means: Well, the word “chock” refers to one of those blocks you put against an object’s wheel to keep the thing from rolling away, so it looks like that’s what you’re doing when you say you’re “chocking it up to” whatever.
The correct phrase: Chalk it up to…
Yes, the instrument you use on a blackboard: Chalk. The phrase originates from the 16th century when blackboards were actually a thing. Store owners or bars would write customers’ outstanding charges or debts on a chalkboard, thus chalking it up.
Misused Phrase #3: Nip it in the butt
What you think it means: Immediately stopping something before it gets too extreme, like when you’re having a conversation with that girl from high school who always tried to out-perform you in gym class volleyball, and you just want to nip the conversation in the butt before it goes on any longer. Because, ugh, what’s up with that girl?
What it actually means: To me, it sounds like you wanna pinch that girl in the tushie. What a strange turn of events.
The correct phrase: Nip it in the bud
You know, like snipping the little flower right at its bud before it blossoms into a beautiful display of life and color. OK, the origin for this one is uninteresting to me, so you can read about it here if you care why the flower part is relevant.
That’s it for today! Hope you learned something new… or better—you already knew all this!