We’re about to go over 10 funny old sayings that people say wrong or get confused by. We’ll start with the confusing ones first. If you’re also bewildered by some of these, maybe this can help clear things up.
5 Funny Old Sayings That Confuse People
Alright, here are 5 funny English sayings that make people scratch their heads.
#1 – You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
This expression is over 450 years old and it puzzles people because they don’t understand why they can’t have their cake and eat it too. To understand this phrase better, try switching the words “have” and “eat” so that it says “you can’t eat your cake and have it too.”
Still don’t get it? Basically, the reason you can’t do both is because they contradict each other. Yes, if you eat the cake, then you wouldn’t have it anymore. So you can only pick one of the options. That said, if you really want to show this old saying who’s boss, just eat half the cake instead. That way, you’ll have eaten the cake while also still having it. Problem solved.
#2 – A Friend In Need Is a Friend Indeed
This expression can be interpreted in multiple ways, thus making it confusing. For example, does it go “a friend in need is a friend indeed” or “a friend in need is a friend in deed“?
On top of that, some wonder why a “friend in need” would make them a “friend indeed”? Well, to clear things up, let’s add a few words to the phrase so it’s easier to understand: “A friend (who helps when you’re) in need is a (true) friend indeed.” There, that’s better. This phrase basically means that if you’re in need of help, true friends will be there for you.
#3 – A Watched Pot Never Boils
Some funny old sayings like this one puzzle people because they take it too literally. Obviously, if you watch a pot, it will come to a boil. What this phrase is trying to say, however, is that when we wait for things to happen (in this case, waiting for a pot to boil), it can feel like it’s taking forever, as if time slows to a crawl.
#4 – It Takes More Muscles to Frown Than to Smile
This one is perplexing because there doesn’t seem to be any solid information that confirms this statement. Yes, after researching this phrase, every source basically said: “It takes (X) amount of muscles to frown and (Y) amount of muscles to smile.” The problem? The “X” and “Y” numbers varied depending on the source.
You know, I’ve always had a slight curiosity on whether or not this was true, I just never bothered to look it up. But then when I do try to look it up, nobody seems to know for sure. Now that’s funny! Actually, it’s not. I’m a little disappointed.
#5 – It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn
Like #3, people take it too literally and thus it doesn’t make any sense. What it means, though, is that things feel their worst just before they take a turn for the better.
5 Old Sayings / Terms That People Say Wrong
Now, lets talk about 5 funny old sayings and terms that people say wrong.
#1 – I Couldn’t Care Less
This is a classic phrase that frequently gets used wrong. The correct phrase is “I couldn’t care less,” which means it’s impossible for a person to care less. However, what a lot of people end up saying is “I could care less,” which is actually the opposite of what they’re trying to say because it means they do, in fact, care.
#2 – Bull In a China Shop
A bull in a china shop sounds like a recipe for disaster. A hulking like that would break everything as it clumsily walks through the shop, or at least, that’s the implication. This old saying is often used as a simile when referring to a clumsy person. However, some people incorrectly think it’s “a bowl in a china shop.” I can understand the confusion considering the words “bull” and “bowl” sound the same, but the misinterpreted form doesn’t make much sense given the idiom’s meaning.
#3 – Getting Off Scot-Free
Sometimes people say this wrong because they think its “getting off scotch free.” While that would certainly top my list of funny sayings, the actual term is “getting off scot-free.” What’s a scot? It’s basically the equivalent to modern tax. Hence, getting off scot-free meant getting away tax-free.
#4 – For All Intents and Purposes
Often this is misused as “for all intensive purposes.” While your purposes may be intense, the correct way to say it is “for all intents and purposes.” It basically means that “X” is almost like “Y.” E.g., My desk is, for all intents and purposes, a table.
Other synonyms for it include: nearly, virtually, more or less, practically.
#5 – Cole Slaw
Okay, this isn’t much of a saying, it’s more a word, but I decided to include it anyways since people commonly say it as “cold slaw.” The actual term, cole slaw, is a salad consisting of raw cabbage, mayonnaise, and other sliced vegetables. It comes from the Dutch term “koolsla” meaning cabbage salad.