Have You Heard?

So many words in English (and most likely in every language) are so close to other words,  both in spelling and pronunciation. These similarities contribute to phrases that are close, but no cigars will be distributed:

Statue of limitations   You want the legal term statute.

Pass mustard   At the dinner table, fine. But the expression is to pass muster, meaning to pass inspection.

Free reign   No royalty involved. It’s free rein (as in giving your horse freedom to ride however she wants).

Baited breath  I’m squirming. Leave the bait in the boat. It’s bated breath, meaning the people holding their breath are waiting anxiously for something to occur.

Heart-rendering  The expression is heartrending. To rend is to tear.

2 Comments

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

2 responses to “Have You Heard?

  1. KATHY SANDEL

    And tear? Is to tear up or tear out a sheet of paper? Rend is to squeeze liquid or fat out of something, right? To release. Or am I just blanking out on this? Please note, my new email is: katsandu9@gmail.com (I’ve closed the sbcglobal account.) Thanks, Kathy Sandel

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  2. Tear a piece of paper. Lots of “rending of garments” in old stories. Rend does have a cooking definition, as you noted. Love your comments (and your posts–I gain weight just looking at the recipes!).

    Like

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