Although I am several years out of the English Classroom, I have to admit that there are still many, many times that I have been saddened, frustrated, and Outright Irritated by the abuse of The Language. Most often, it is in print (especially egregious are the ever-lowering standards of my once-proud Cleveland Plain Dealer). But many times, while I am out and about in Society, I cannot help but overhear Terribly Substandard Usages of The Language. Lately, I am noticing more and more people who flog and flay simple, common Idioms.
Idioms, you remember, are common expressions that have a figurative or symbolic meaning. These expressions are ages-old and have been part of The Language for quite some time. For example, if you say, "I had no idea that Vern Sandwaddle kicked the bucket last year!", everyone pretty much knows you aren't talking about Vern's athletic prowess. Rather, it's high time you sent the Widow Sandwaddle your condolences.
Here are a few Idioms that I wish Everyday Speakers/Writers would use correctly:
1. Toe The Line NOT "Tow The Line." This idiom has to do with soldiers, probably, lining up precisely in formation. Imagine all the times that schoolchildren or athletes have to stand precisely at a certain mark. Makes more sense than having to haul a rope, which does not call for precision at all.
2. Cut And Dried NOT "Cut And Dry." I will never stop harping about this, and I mention it constantly. It really hurts me physically to see and hear this. I mean it. Why would anyone misuse this? It makes no sense to say, "The case was cut and dry." Every single time I hear it, I want to follow the person and, if not explain it to him/her, make the missing "D" sound. Can you imagine me following someone at the grocery store harping, "Duh, duh, duh! It's DRIED. DRIED. DRIED!"
3. Tide Me Over NOT "Tie Me Over." I not only saw this recently, but I heard it as well. Two ladies in Walgreens were discussing whether to buy two bags of spice-flavoured jellybeans or just one. "I think just the one," said Capris And Windbreaker. "It's enough to Tie Me Over till Sunday when Iris comes." I hope Iris comes armed not only with more spiced jellybeans, but this URL, explaining the origins of TIDE Me Over.
4. Tough Row To Hoe NOT "Tough Road To Hoe." Get ready to hear this one over and over again, not only with regard to The Politics, but also to Basketball, the Neverending Season. I heard it this morning. Why anyone gets this one wrong escapes me, but with so many oddities in dialect and substandard slang, I guess it is to be expected. The metaphor of farming and hoeing a row for planting is pretty self-explanatory here. An argument could be made that hoeing a road is tough as well, but..oh, shut up. (Why would anyone hoe a road?)
Sigh. That's it. Now I'm spent. It is your turn, and do let's stick to Idioms. (It is the Letter I Post, after all.) If we wander off into other Language Atrocities, we'll ruin upcoming Posts; I just know it.