Better Brands Choose Their Words Wisely

Better Brands Choose Their Words Wisely

A.K.A. Don’t Be An Idiom Idiot!

There’s SO much more to smart and savvy brands than logos, color schemes and your font of choice.

The very words and phrases brands choose, and use/misuse, play a large role in the perception of your expertise, or lack thereof.

Per Merriam-Webster, one of my favorite go-to resources in writing and reading comprehension: An idiom is a rendition of a combination of words that have a figurative meaning. The figurative meaning is comprehended in regard to a common use of the expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made.

Think Before You Turn That Phrase

We’ve all seen brands and individuals mangle what we call a “turn of phrase”. Admittedly, it’s often funny. But when you’re trying to promote yourself as a dedicated, dialed-in digital business marketer, certain common word choice errors, which I like to call idiom idiocy – as I can’t stop myself from employing alliteration whenever possible, might very well make you look foolish in the eyes of your potential client.

Some of these phrases may not “strictly” fall into the idiom camp – but again, for love of alliteration, I hope you forgive me!

Word Choice Woes!

Tongue In Cheek NOT Tongue and Cheek: Meaning that a statement or other phrase is made in an attempt at humor, is not seriously intended and should not be taken at face value. When I hear the botched version I immediately flash back to those horrible old Skoals commercials about a “pinch between your teeth and gum”. I don’t know why!

Bear With Me NOT Bare With Me: While you might be an especially handsome man or beautiful women, I’d prefer it if you kept your clothes on. We’re not THAT connected, OK?

“Bear with me,” the standard expression, is a request for forbearance or patience. “Bare with me” would be an invitation to get “nekkid” together.

Whet Your Appetite NOT Wet Your Appetite: While water is essential to life as we know it, it’s not the “wet” you’re looking for. Water applied to an appetite would serve to “dampen” rather than increase it. And this phrase is about more than that gourmet meal. Per TheFreeDictionary, to whet is: to cause someone to be interested in something and to be eager to have, know, learn, etc., more about it.

Pass Muster NOT Pass Mustard: You’re not doctoring up a hotdog from a sidewalk vendor! The phrase means “to be judged as acceptable.” It comes from the idea of mustering forces, militia – an army.

Tough Row To Hoe NOT Road To Hoe: I’ve seen plenty of road crews in my life – in Atlanta it seems every road is constantly in need of repair. That being said, I’ve never seen a crew member working with a hoe. That gardening implement is meant to create rows in which you’ll plant your crops (seeds). If you’ve ever gardened seriously – or farmed, you’ll know that’s pretty hard work. Hence the phrase, which means you’ve got a difficult task to carry out or a heavy set of burdens.

There you have it. Pithy phrases can draw in and entertain your audience. Or they can drive people away if you fall prey to idiom idiocy!

2 replies
  1. Chad
    Chad says:

    Love these Mallie!
    And while it may not be one of your Word Choice Woes the one thing that drives me insane on a consistent basis has to be the usage of lose and loose. On a daily basis I see people exclaim “He is going to loose my business” or “I lost weight and my pants are lose now” it drives me up a wall.

    • Mallie Hart
      Mallie Hart says:

      Soooo true, Chad. That one annoys me, too. My dad can actually be set off an a serious rant when he sees that one!

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