During a recent radio interview a prominent Sydney barrister was several times heard to use the phrase ‘it was more better’, highlighting that even the most seemingly educated of people aren’t immune from make embarrassing grammatical or spelling mistakes. Here are some common ones to avoid.
I could care less
Really? Then feel free to do so until you can’t any more, at which point you can then use the correct expression – ‘I couldn’t care less’. It’s a far more powerful statement to claim you’re fresh out of care about something than claim to still have some left in reserve.
To all intensive purposes
One of the most common eggcorns, this means you’re telling folks that whatever you’re describing is full on; is concentrated and exhaustive. Using the correct ‘to all intents and purposes’, means you’re saying something is ‘in effect’ or ‘practically’ the same as something else. For example, ‘To all intents and purposes, without the aircon on full, his car became a mobile sauna.’
Nip it in the butt
Try doing this in the workplace and you’re liable to find yourself slapped with a lawsuit. But ‘nip it in the bud’, and you’re correctly taking action to bring to a halt whatever shenanigans are driving you up the wall. The phrase originates from the practice of gardeners de-budding plants to slow their growth. Just ask Costa.
From whoa to go
Saying ‘My dinner party was a disaster from whoa to go’ is back to front. You’re effectively saying ‘From the very end to the beginning, it all fell apart’, which doesn’t make sense. However, using the correct phrase ‘From go to whoa’ makes it clear that once the entrees caught fire, the whole evening went rapidly downhill.
Slight of hand
A slight is an insult, so has no logical connection with a hand. The word you really want is ‘sleight’ – rhyming with weight – which refers to a cunningly executed trick or deception. Or, you can impress your colleagues no end by using the wonderful-sounding ‘legerdemain’. As in, ‘She performed a classic piece of management legerdemain when she got the Board to increase her budget by 50%.’
Troops may once have been ordered to ‘Bunker down!’ to avoid enemy fire, but it’s not really a term to use today. To ‘hunker’ means to squat; to get down on one’s haunches, concentrating all your strength into a solid ball. So, by exhorting your team to ‘Hunker down and let’s meet that crazy deadline!’ you’re asking everyone to give their all.
Take a sneak peak
This is a really common spelling error. Basically, using ‘peak’ instead of ‘peek’ sounds like you’re seriously considering sneaking off with the Matterhorn and the Swiss just don’t look kindly on that kind of thing. You can easily remind yourself that the correct spelling is ‘peek’ by remembering it’s got a double ‘e’, just like in ‘see’.