Posted by: Jack Henry | September 8, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Sneaking Suspicion

I was recently sending an email to a friend and colleague, and I wrote that I had a “sneaky suspicion.” As soon as I typed the words, I had a sneaking suspicion that I got the idiom wrong. And I was right about being wrong, so I fixed it before I sent it. My friend still doesn’t know that I’m not perfect! Whew!

A few months ago, I wrote a post called Commonly Confused Idioms, and “sneaking suspicion” wasn’t on that list, so I thought that I’d provide a few more idioms that give people pause. Here you go.

Incorrect Correct
Another thing coming Another think coming

Explanation: This is simply a misheard expression. The entire original phrase was “If that’s what you think, then you’ve got another think coming.” I would argue that “another thing” is much more common these days, but it’s good to know the original idiom.

Incorrect Correct
Beckon call Beck and call

Explanation: This mistake makes sense because beckon means to call over or request. But a beck is a nod, or wave, or other signal that is used to summon or command.

Incorrect Correct
Case and point Case in point

Explanation: This one is a little murkier, as idioms often are. It seems like you could make your case and your point, but actually, your case is in your point.

Incorrect Correct
Extract revenge Exact revenge

Explanation: Extract means to remove. Exacting is another word for getting. This idiom is talking about getting revenge.

Incorrect Correct
First come, first serve First come, first served

Explanation: If you say “first come, first serve” you are implying that the first one who comes has to serve everyone who comes after. Actually, the first one who comes is served first.

Incorrect Correct
Shoe in Shoo in

Explanation: I think this mistake happens because people aren’t familiar with the word shoo, which means to urge something along (think of the phrase “shoo fly”). According to Merriam-Webster, “the meaning of shoo-in comes from an earlier use of the verb shoo, which generally means ‘to scare, drive, or send (someone or something) away.’ At the turn of the 20th century, the verb shoo, followed by in, came to be used in horse racing to mean ‘to allow a racehorse to win easily.’”

Incorrect Correct
Step foot in Set foot in

Explanation: This is another misheard expression. Sure, step foot in makes sense, but I’d argue that set foot in makes more sense.

Incorrect Correct
Without further adieu Without further ado

Explanation: Adieu is a French word that means goodbye. This expression isn’t about leaving; it’s about getting on with it. Ado means “fussy excitement.” We don’t want any of that nonsense!

Happy Thursday all!

Donna Bradley Burcher |Technical Editor, Advisory | jack henry™

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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