Inconceivable: Misused Phrases and What You Really Meant to Say

Vizzini from the Princess Bride yells, "Inconceivable!"

Some words are just hard to pronounce, like sorbet. It’s not “sore-bet” like it’s spelled—’cuz the English language is stupid—and when you say it wrong, you most definitely appear uncultured. In an effort to help you look smarter at parties or professional functions, we present you with misused or just plain wrong phrases and what you really meant to (or should) say. 

“I could care less.”

We bet you could—if you cared at all. Think about it: you could care less, meaning you care about it to some degree. What you really mean to say is that you couldn’t care less. Unless, of course, you do care and have been thinking about caring less. But when you say you could care less, there is no indicator that you don’t care at all—which is likely what you are trying to say.

Alas, it appears the phrase has become an American idiom, and when we say it, everyone knows what it means. Maybe we should just stop caring about whether we could or couldn’t care less in the first place.

In a sense, we could care less.

For all ‘intents and purposes’not for all ‘intensive purposes’

We know you think you are saying this correctly, but you’re wrong. Please stop. “For all ‘intensive purposes’” tells someone “for all of these very thorough reasons” which could make sense, but it doesn’t, so let’s stop saying it, okay?

On the other hand, “for all intents and purposes,” tells people, “for all practical reasoning,” which actually coincides with what is being said, rather than making no sense at all. We are not here to judge (except we are, hence this blog). We have been known to slip up on a phrase or two ourselves which is why you have got to take us at face value here, for all intents and purposes.  

“Flush” vs. “Flesh” It Out

This one’s popped up quite a lot at the 8THIRTYFOUR office lately. We’ve seen our fair share of people telling us we’ll “flush it out” later…which is really kind of alarming, actually. Why? Well…

Fleshing something out means to add to it. Think about adding flesh to bones (gross, we know, but shhh). Flushing something out means to get rid of it. Like flushing gross shit down the drain. And that’s…the opposite, really. So instead of building it out, we toss it. Are we excited about an idea or tossing it to the dogs? Maybe it’s time to double-check those words before hitting send.

“All But…”

One t, not two, first off. Mind out of the gutter.

People use this one all the time. Things like, “the town was all but destroyed” or “that badass historical woman was all but forgotten” or “the giant bottle of wine is all but gone!”

What we’ve noticed is people spit this phrase out without really thinking about what it means. That town up there? It was everything but destroyed. And the woman was everything except forgotten. The wine? Good news! It’s everything except gone! Essentially, all these things are real damn close to those fates, but they’re not there yet. So the next time you say your coworker’s report is “all but perfect,” remember—that’s not a compliment.

Espresso, NOT Expresso

“How many shots of expresso are in that?” – overheard at any coffee place ever

The second-hand embarrassment is real. We get it. If you’re saying it really fast, your brain tells you to add in that extra sound. But please. For the love of the Starbucks gods, say it how it’s spelled. It’s for your own good (and dignity).

Also, fun fact: one of our team members used to work at a coffee shop whose wifi password was expresso, including the x. Let’s just say there’s a reason they’re at 8THIRTYFOUR now.

Fruitition vs. Fruition

This is less of a phrase and more of a mispronunciation. “Fruitition” sounds like a knock-off of the early 2000s staple, Fruitopia. You mean fruition. Trust us.

Extract Revenge vs. Exact Revenge

We’re not sure you can purchase revenge in extract form, but please, let us know if you can. Is it next to the vanilla extract or is it better suited for the “personal wellness” aisle?

Extract means to “remove” or “take out.” Exact means to “demand” or “obtain.” If you’re trying to get revenge on someone, removing or extracting the revenge defeats the purpose.

We hope you feel smarter after reading this blog. Please share with those who struggle with the English language and like to use big words without truly understanding the proper context.

You can also read up on the proper use of dashes, semicolons, and other grammar tips. We’re nothing if not helpful.

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