Inaccurate Idioms and Pet Peeves

People say funny things.  Some of us demand accuracy in language, and some of us can let things go.  I guess I’m in the former category, though I don’t want to be Mr. Cranky about it.  I’ve read articles about “could care less” vs. “couldn’t care less” which seems like a clear-cut case of people being lazy with an extra syllable.  But this subject has been beaten to death so I’ll move on.  By the way, beaten to death is an accurate idiom.  I like it but I don’t want to use it too much, otherwise it might die from too much beating.

Pointing out peculiarities in language is something that people who love words love.  We with the fingers on the keyboards like to play Scrabble with the letters and come up with something worth 85 points if possible.  We also don’t like it when someone lays down tiles that spell Phariswheal.   

When something’s wrong, or even just odd, it’s worth pointing out.

Take for instance “Peed my pants” (Yep, this is www.bestbathroombooks.com, remember?)  I see this in comments about blogs that are funny.  I think women either pee their pants more than men, or think things are funnier than men, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard a man say “That was so funny I almost peed my pants.”

I have heard men say, “That scared the shit out of me” (Yep, still www.bestbathroombooks.com).  So poop is equated with fear, and pee is equated with laughter.  These both seem like accurate expressions because those bodily functions may occur in their respective situations.  You might also say, “That was so funny I almost farted”—and this would be accurate because I’ve heard it happen.  But people don’t say this, which means that it is more culturally acceptable to pee your pants than to fart.  This seems odd to me, because peeing your pants generally requires more laundering than farting.  I am, of course, talking about farts that are considered “normal” as determined by the National Fart Council.

We say things because everyone else has said them for so long, and to utter something new—but more accurate– is unacceptable.  If you were at a dinner party and you said, “We went to go see (Hilarious Movie) and it was so funny I almost farted”, people would probably go straight to facebook and unfriend you.  So, out of fear, we stick to our wet pants and our old guns (which by the way, are rusty and don’t work as well as some new ones that look different than the old ones.  Why do people like the look of old guns and wet underpants so much?)

When someone “has a cow”, this means they are upset.  This is an idiom that seems accurate—it would definitely be upsetting to have a cow, but couldn’t we be more accurate?  How about if I “had a porcupine?”  Would “having a porcupine” mean that I was even more upset?  It seems more painful than having a cow, doesn’t it?

Here’s one that’s been a raspberry seed in my wisdom tooth for years:

Time is Money.

I write music as well, and I wrote a song about this.  I will make your day by not providing a link.  But here’s my point:

Time isn’t money.  Time is time.  You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.  Money is a finite thing, and time is infinite.  Time=Money is a false equation.  This axiom is usually used to describe someone trying to get something done, and the longer it takes, the more money it’s going to cost.  So people shouldn’t be saying “Time is Money”.  They should be saying “The Length of Time is Money.”  The longer it takes to do something, the more it will cost.

Okay, maybe I’m splitting hairs (an accurate idiom), but words have meaning.  We use them all the time and we repeat phrases that could be better phrases.  We are fighting against culture if we dare to challenge tried if not true statements.  But isn’t that what we’re here for, to sharpen and improve the meaning of things?

Try this: Think of something you say that could be more accurate.  Then improve it and see if anyone notices.  In other words, make up your own axiom.  Maybe it will catch on, and someday everyone will be saying:  That workout really excited my sweat glands.

Mr. Cranky ‘s Pet Peeve:  People who use the phrase: I want to say…

They’ll use this when they’re not sure of a statistic they think you might check on your Smartphone, or they’re just guessing (they could just say they’re guessing, right?)

Overheard Conversation:

“How many hotdogs did you eat last night?”

“I want to say six.”

You know what, Buddy.  Just say six.  I won’t be upset at all.

 

Les

www.bestbathroombooks.com

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About bestbathroombooks

I run a small publishing company and am presently seeking the funniest, coolest and most marketable ideas to sell in places like Urban Outfitters, Papyrus, college bookstores and independent bookstores in the Humor Sections. Contact me through this blog or better at www.bestbathroombooks.com. There are some talented people out there writing good, funny, conceptual books and blogging some funny stuff. I wish I had time to read more and write more. I have a day gig and do a lot of other things, but blogging helps me stay connected to my laptop and ensures sterility (due to EMF on my testicles) which is great because I've had enough kids. Les
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23 Responses to Inaccurate Idioms and Pet Peeves

  1. Lez says:

    I laughed so hard I cried, peed, farted, drooled and blew a booger out my nose- thank god I’m constipated. You da’ Bomb, Les and I couldn’t care more if I tried. ((( : )

  2. afrankangle says:

    Alright. On my second trip here I can now verify that you are one sick puppy. But how can that be true because I’ve never laughed at any sick animal – let alone an adorable puppy. I know porcupines don’t pee their pants for the obvious reason – porcupines can’t sew a pair with their quills – but can a porcupine fart?

    Answers.com states the following: “Yes porcupines do fart. in fact they are very gassy. when they do fart they release needles that shoot at its predator at very high speeds up to 20 mph. a fart is a sign of threat to porcupines.”

    Thanks for the advice.

  3. Angie Z. says:

    Very smart. Very funny. I know I will be the first of many to say (or “want to say”) that I peed my pants I laughed so hard reading this. But (since you read my recent blog post) you know I might actually mean it.

    But I didn’t fart. (The unfriend part…classic.)

  4. speaker7 says:

    I want to say that I want to say something. . . ah yes, six hotdogs is just too, too many.
    I laughed at this. I laughed so hard that I banged my head into the dining room table. I think there may be something wrong with me.

    • That is the new phrase I will use from now on. “That was so funny I banged my head on the table.” I knew I could count on speaker7 to come up with a new axiom.
      I want to say I’m thankful.
      Les

  5. Imagine the scene…
    Four women reunite, after 20 years, to catch up on life and reminisce about their college days. They spend the evening sipping wine and laughing as they remember their outrageous college behavior. At one point, Erika leans into Connie and whispers, “Con, I think Nancy just wet her pants.” Connie replies, “Of course she did, dear. The poor thing had three children in less than three years. I’m surprised she doesn’t have to drag her bladder behind her in a wagon.”
    That’s why women pee their pants and men don’t…childbirth.
    By the way, I peed my pants reading this post. Well done!

  6. John Erickson says:

    Well, at least among guys, it’s being able to measure things. If it’s so funny you ALMOST farted, you have two failures: !. You DIDN’T fart, you ALMOST farted; and 2. Where’s your evidence? A fart leaves no trace (hopefully), therefore you have no proof that you almost did ANYTHING.
    As to time being money, it depends on if you rented or bought your TARDIS. Either way times IS money – you either write off the depreciated TARDIS you bought, or you have to pay per trip in your rented TARDIS. Hence, if you make more trips, just like a car, it’s better to buy than to lease.
    And “you’d like to say six”? That’s true – you’re trying to impress, but you wimped out at two. You WANT to say six to look awesome. Contrarily, you want to say six so as not to appear being a pig, but you REALLY scarfed the whole 8 (or 10, or 12, or however many they’re putting in packages these days).
    Like Einstein stated, it’s all relative……
    (p.s. It’s all AFrankAngle’s fault. Blame Frank you’re stuck with me! 😀 )

  7. joem18b says:

    I’ll be looking forward to your review of the new movie released this week, “In Time.”
    In this flick, time literally is money. You reach the age of 25 (or somesuch) and you’re given x more years, which you spend, minute by minute, as money. When you run out of time, you die. Otherwise, you never age.

  8. Hi Les, Have just nominated you for the Versatile Bloggers Award – you may have received it before… See my home page for details…

  9. You’re too kind. No, I mean it. Too kind. You need to be meaner.
    Les

  10. Elyse says:

    Very funny post. And I will share with you my peeing story: http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2011/10/09/comes-around/. Because sometimes things other than laughter can bring it on.

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