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(See also FALLACIOUSNESS.)
all wet Totally mistaken, in error; perversely wrong. This slang expression dates from the early 1930s and is still in common use.
Alfalfa Bill Murray may be all wet in his state-line bridge and oil production controversies. (Kansas City Times, August 29, 1931)
Although the exact origin of all wet is unknown, wet as a negative word is familiar in phrases such as wet blanket and in the British use of wet to mean ‘feeble or foolish.’
back the wrong horse To be mistaken in one’s judgment, to support a loser. The expression, originally a reference to betting on a losing horse, is now used popularly to denote the support or backing of any losing person or cause.
bad-ball hitter A person of questionable judgment, so-called from the base-ball term for a batter who swings at pitches well outside the strike zone.
bad break An unfortunate piece of luck, bad luck. This American slang term is conjectured to have come from billiards, where to make a bad break is to cause the racked billiard balls to scatter in such a way that further shots are difficult. This meaning dates from the late 19th century and, though still occasionally encountered, has been largely displaced by the currency of break meaning ‘a stroke of luck or fortune.’
bark up the wrong tree To pursue a false lead; to be misled or mistaken. This Americanism clearly comes from hunting; specifically, according to some, nocturnal raccoon hunting in which the dogs would often lose track of their quarry.
I told him … that he reminded me of the meanest thing on God’s earth, an old coon dog, barking up the wrong tree. (Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, 1833)
miss the cushion To make a mistake; to fail in an attempt. It has been hypothesized that cushion is another word for ‘target’ or ‘mark’; thus, the expression is thought to derive from the unsuccessful attempt of an archer to hit the “mark. Now obsolete, miss the cushion dates from the early 16th century.
Thy wits do err and miss the cushion quite. (Michael Drayton, Eclogues, 1593)
off base Badly mistaken, completely wrong. In baseball, a runner leading too far off the base is likely to be thrown out. This expression is also obsolete slang for ‘crazy or demented.’
out in left field Wildly mistaken, absolutely wrong; disoriented, confused. This American slang term refers to the left outfield position in baseball, a game in which the infield is the center of activity. Nothing inherent in the game, however, makes the left field position more appropriate than the right for inclusion in the expression. Perhaps the negative associations of left (clumsiness, backwardness) account for its use.
overshoot the mark See EXCESSIVENESS.
pull a boner To make an obvious, stupid mistake, to blunder; to make an embarrassing, amusing slip of the tongue. This originally U.S. slang expression dating from the turn of the century may have derived from the antics of the two end men, Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo, of the old minstrel shows. The interlocutor would carry on humorous conversations with the end men who sometimes provoked laughter by “pulling a boner.”
Got his signals mixed and pulled a boner. (American Magazine, September, 1913)
A common variant is make a boner.
This Government has made about every boner possible. (Spectator, October 7, 1960)
slip of the tongue See EXPOSURE.
take in water To be flawed or weak; to be invalid or unsound. This obsolete expression, dating from the late 16th century, alludes to a vessel that is not watertight. By extension, it applies to flawed ideas or statements.
All the rest are easily freed; St. Jerome and St. Ambrose in the opinion of some seem to take in water. (Bishop Joseph Hall, Episcopacie By Divine Right Asserted, 1640)
See also hold water, VALIDITY.
wide of the mark Inaccurate, erroneous, off base; irrelevant, not pertinent. Dating from the 17th century, this expression most likely derives from the unsuccessful attempt of an archer to hit the “mark” or target. Variants of this expression include far from the mark and short of the mark. See beside the mark, IRRELEVANCE.
|Noun||1.||erroneousness - inadvertent incorrectness|
deviation - the error of a compass due to local magnetic disturbances