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By Belle Morte/ comments

19 English Phrases That Make No Sense

March 19, 2015
19 English Phrases That Make No Sense

Previously we highlighted victorian terms you should be using; today lets get creative and talk about english. English is a versatile, beautiful, yet sometimes complicated language, but when you get down to it, some common phrases just don’t make sense. I’m sure you’ve heard these 19 English phrases that make no sense.

  1. The Proof is in the pudding.

This phrase started out as “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”, which meant that you have to know what’s in the pudding by eating it.  It has since been shortened to “The proof is in the pudding”. It implies that you should take the initiative to learn by examining the evidence that supports the claim yourself.

  1. More than you can shake a stick at.

This is one of those strange phrases that no one seems to want to claim as their own. It’s thought to have been in use since the 1800’s and means an abundance of something. “He had more cupcakes than he could shake a stick at.”

  1. I could care less. (“I couldn’t care less”)

The reason this phrase is one that makes no sense, isn’t because it exists, but that it is used improperly most of the time. “I couldn’t care less” is the proper way to say this phrase, because if you could care less, then, the situation isn’t quite as dire as you’re trying to imply.

  1. Later alligator.

This phrase is meant to tell someone you’ll see them again. It is usually followed up with “After a while, crocodile.”

  1. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

This is a popular English proverb or phrase meant to say that you cannot possess and eat your cake. But, if one eats but a slice of their cake, they can indeed have their cake and eat it too.

  1. Rule of Thumb.

This phrase is usually used in a teaching sense based off of experience. Such as “The rule of thumb of English is to understand spelling and grammar.”

  1. Bite The Bullet.

This phrase means to endure a painful or unpleasant situation. This comes from when doctors would have their patients clench a bullet between their teeth to cope with the pain of surgery.

  1. Basket Case.

This is a phrase that originated in WWI, which indicated that a soldier was missing their appendages. However, it now means helplessness due to mental health or aptitude.

  1. Raining Cats and Dogs.

The phrase raining cats and dogs is to referring to a large storm. It is thought that the dogs mean wind and cats mean rain. It is thought to have come from the Greek expression “Cata Doxa” which translates to “Contrary to the experience or belief.”

  1. Bust Your Chops.

The actual translation of this phrase is to hit someone in the mouth, since “bust” translates to “punch” and chops translates to “mouth” but this is used more often to mean giving someone a hard time.

  1. By The Short Hairs.

This is a euphemism for pubic hair, but used in this context it is meant to translate into having someone by the balls.

  1. As Pleased as Punch.

It refers to the Punch and Judy character Punch, in which Punch is always “very pleased” and satisfied with his evil actions.

  1. Wrong End of the Stick.

This phrase means that someone is confused in a simple situation, or making assumptions that are incorrect.

  1. Dead Ringer.

The translation to this phrase is for a person or a thing to seem to be exactly like someone or something else, whether that is personality or appearance. 

  1. Let’s get down to the Nitty-Gritty.

Nitty-gritty translates to “serious business”, meaning to get down to it, means that you’re getting down to business.

  1. Head over Heels.

This is a term used to describe falling in love with someone, which is of course used in a figurative fashion. It can also be taken as a somersault.

  1. A Little Bird Told Me.

It is meant to mean that someone has told them something, but, they don’t want to say who gave them the information.

  1. Apple of My Eye.

This is meant to mean someone or something that the person cherishes above all else. This is an important person or thing.

  1. Got Cold Feet.

This is meant to mean that someone has lost their nerve or confidence to go through with something.

What other english phrases do you think make no sense?