phrases and words not properly understood

Yellow Fang

Legendary Member
Location
Reading
Which words and phrases do you hear used where either you don't really understand what they mean, or you suspect the speaker doesn't understand what they mean?

For example, for a long time I never understood the phrase, "You can't have your cake and eat it." It puzzled me for a long time, because what's the point of cake if not to eat it.

Another example, period. You hear Americans say something like, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard - period." Then you started hearing British people using it too. Do they realise period is American for full stop? I doubt it.
 

Greedo

Guest
Cheap at half the price.

Never understood this as people use it when they get something really cheap in the first place. Baffles me tbh
 

dodgy

Legendary Member
Location
Wirral
"Believe you, me" <-- makes no sense at all. "Believe me, you" makes slightly more sense but people don't use it.
 

ChrisKH

Veteran
Location
Essex
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Why? I hate the things.

A penny saved is a penny earned. Crap, I've already earned it, you can't earn it twice.

God looks after those who help themselves. Does he? Does he really? Right, prove it.
 

siadwell

Guru
Location
Surrey
Greedo said:
Cheap at half the price.

Never understood this as people use it when they get something really cheap in the first place. Baffles me tbh
Good article at http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cheap-at-half-the -price.html which proposes three meanings:

1. 'Cheap at half the price' is understood to mean 'reasonably priced' and if people understand that meaning why worry about logical niceties.
2. It was never intended to be taken seriously and is a pun on the meaningful phrase 'cheap at twice the price', intended either humorously or in order to deceive.
3. It is just an error made by people who aren't thinking what they are saying.
 

Greedo

Guest
When someone see's something they like and say either.

"That's right up my street"

"Just my cup of tea"

I have said both loads of time but what do they actually mean?? especially the street one ;)
 

Gerry Attrick

Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant
Back in the age of gas lamps, smogs and bicycles, when I was acting the goat and being generally troublesome (I was you know!) my old dad used to threaten that I would "laugh on the other side my face" if I didn't behave.
 
OP
Yellow Fang

Yellow Fang

Legendary Member
Location
Reading
'Hyperbole', and the shorted form, 'hype' is another word I don't understand the usage of. For a start it's pronounced hyperbolee, not hyperbowl like I heard some reporter say on radio 5 live. An hyperbole is the path taken by a cannonball (ignoring air resistance), so how did it came to mean over-publicising?

Another one is 'fortuitous'. I believe it means coincidentally, not fortunate. It gets said a lot on radio 5 live too. Why use fortuitous to mean fortunate when fortunate already means fortunate?

Then there's all the bullshit bingo phrases, such as 'thinking outside of the box' and 'paradigm shift' - wtf

Then there's the arty ones. 'Postmodern' used to get said a lot on late night arts review programmes. Even when I looked it up, I wasn't any wiser.
 
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