10 Common Sayings You're Probably Saying Wrong

Is it a "doggy-dog" or a "dog-eat-dog" world? Chris McKay/WireImage/Getty Images

The English language is awash with sayings and phrases that cover everything from new beginnings ("back to square one") to endings ("kick the bucket") and just about everything in between. Many reflect not only the development of the language over the course of history -- the old saw about never looking a gift horse in the mouth can be traced back to the 13th century -- but also the story of our shared experiences [sources: Grammarphobia]. After basketball star LeBron James told the world he was signing with the NBA's Miami Heat in 2010 by saying, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach," the phrase took on a life of its own. It was used to describe subjects as varied as a night at the pub ("I'm taking my talents to Moe's"), breakups ("I'm taking my talents to [insert new significant other's name here]"), or even resignations ("I'm taking my talents to Initech") [source: D'Angelo].

The problem is that many people who use these phrases wind up throwing the baby out with bathwater by flubbing and butchering the particular saying so badly that it means something else entirely or nothing at all. Some of the most common expressions are also some of the most commonly confused. (Is that a statue of limitations, or a statute?)

They say knowledge is power (or perhaps powder). So read on to master some of the most regularly used phrases that are regularly said wrong.