11 of The Phrases Most Commonly Misused by Americans

Some people’s grammar is simply atrocious. As someone who does a lot of writing for a living, it pains me to see when people make stupid mistakes in conversation and on social media with common phrases.

While spelling and grammar skills have declined in the age of social media and texting, there are some misused phrases that particularly stand out in every day conversation. We could list hundreds, probably, but here are eleven of those misused phrases.

11. “I could care less” vs. “I couldn’t care less.”

Example: Employee 1: “There’s no more coffee.”

Employee 2: “I could care less.”

By saying that one “could care less,” it means that a person does care for whatever the subject is. If that person meant to say that they really do not care (which is what people generally intend), he/she would have said “I could not care less.”

10. “Self-depreciating vs. self-deprecation.”

Example: “Why are you saying such self-depreciating things about yourself?”

Depreciation is a term used to describe the process of an asset going down in value; it is an economic term, not something to describe a person talking about his/herself.

Deprecation is when one talks badly about his or herself, evidence of low self-esteem sometimes. Sometimes one may engage in self-deprecating humor, making fun of one’s self.

However, it does not mean that a person’s value as a human being is going down, like a car or an old cell phone.

9. Irregardless vs. Regardless

Example: “Irregardless of that fact, I’m still going to do it.”

“Irregardless” is not a word, though Google Chrome does not even mark it as an incorrectly spelled word (yet it marks real words as incorrect; come on Google…).

“Regardless” is a real word. If you’re going to do something in spite of a certain fact, you’re going to do it regardless. Use correct spelling regardless of what everyone else does.

8. “Nip it in the butt” vs. “Nip it in the bud”

Example: “This child’s behavior has me concerned, but we’re going to nip it in the butt before he becomes a problem.”

There is a huge difference between these two phrases, and if used improperly it could be the subject of huge embarrassment.

If a teacher or parent is concerned about a child misbehaving, but they want to be proactive, they will nip it in the bud; the expression comes from the idea of de-budding flowers, so that they would not grow.

If you’re going to “nip it in the butt” over a child’s behavior, the implication is that you’re going to bite the child’s posterior. Don’t do that…

7. “Piece of mind” vs. “Peace of mind”

Example: “After taking that personal finance course, I have much more piece of mind.”

No, you would have peace of mind, in that you would not be worried about what may come your way.

If you are going to have “piece of mind,” that implies your going to share your thoughts on a situation with another, with the connotation being that it will be done with an attitude of hostility.

6. “Peek interest” vs. “Peak interest” versus. “Pique interest”

Example: “This topic really peeks my interest.” “This topic really peaks my interest.”

Both of the former words in those sentences have entirely different meanings than the correct phrase, to “pique interest.”

“Peek interest” would be to look into something that one finds interesting, like a Peeping Tom let’s say.

“Peak interest” would indicate that one like mountains.

To “pique” interest is to excite one’s inner curiosity about a subject.

5. Mute point vs, moot point

Example: “Well, the ancient kingdom of Babylon doesn’t exist so it’s a mute point.”

If someone claims that an argument is a “mute point,” they might as well grab the remote and locate the button one uses to silence the TV.

If someone is saying that an argument is irrelevant, then it is a “moot point.” Courts will often refer to the fact that a case may be “moot” because circumstances surrounding a given case may have changed, making litigation no longer necessary.

4. “Down the pipe” versus “Down the pike”

Example: “I’ve come some trouble coming down the pipe.”

If a person is expecting something to happen in the future, it’s not coming by ways of plumbing and sewer systems. Water and human waste goes down the pipe, but if someone is expecting something in the future, then they will say that it is coming “down the pike.”

That is, it looks like down the turnpike, a road, there is something heading our way.

3. “Doggie dog” vs. “Dog eat dog”

Example: “The job market is tough right now; it’s a doggie dog world out there.”

Does that make any sense? A “doggie dog” world sounds pretty friendly actually… But that’s not the meaning of the expression “dog eat dog.”

A “dog eat dog” world is a world where things are tough, and we have to fight for what we want. That’s the way things work in this world sometimes. Though, having a “doggie dog” along for the ride may make things a bit more fun sometimes.

2. “Without further adieu” versus “Without further ado”

Example: “Without further adieu, I introduce you to our guest speaker.”

If that was the case, he would have been done saying his formal goodbyes!

No, that’s not it at all, though. Rather, he said “without further ado,” in that he is finally ending the “time-wasting bother over trivial details.” He’s finally getting around to what matters (though for him, it may involve bidding adieu).

1. “Should of” versus “Should have”

Example: “I should of done that yesterday!”

Just don’t, please don’t… Yet I see this all the time, literally just about every single day.

You shouldn’t have said “should of.” That literally means nothing in the English language, at least nothing intelligible.

If there is something that you ought to do in the past modal tense, you should have done it.

Bonus: “Democratic socialism” vs. “slavery”

Example: “I believe in Democratic socialism for the United States.”

No, if you believe that, you believe in slavery to the State, though you get to choose if your master will be this Statist or that Statist. Contrary to what many on the Left believe, people can be enslaved to the government; through means of excessive taxation and over-regulation of personal freedoms, so a person is made into a slave.

Are there any others you would add to this list?