What does the idiom "get off on the wrong foot" mean?

The phrase get off on the wrong foot is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of get off on the wrong foot.

Meaning of "get off on the wrong foot"

Meaning

The phrase “get off on the wrong foot” is an idiom used to describe an awkward or tense beginning to a relationship. When someone “gets off on the wrong foot” with another person, it suggests that the initial interactions were negative or unsatisfactory, often resulting in a negative impression going forward.

Etymology

The etymology for the phrase “get off on the wrong foot” is uncertain, though it is believed to originate from the late 1700s. It is suggested that the phrase’s roots could be from card games of the time, where players were required to “get off on the wrong foot” in order to get ahead and win the game.

Usage

This phrase is often used to describe initial meetings or conversations between two or more people, or the beginning of a close interpersonal relationship. It is most common in casual conversations or informal writing, and can be used humorously or seriously depending on the context.

Example Sentences

  • “I'm afraid we got off on the wrong foot, so let's start again”
  • “I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot, can we please try again?”
  • “I think we've gotten off on the wrong foot, and I want to apologize for my part in it.”
  • “Their first meeting did not go well--they got off on the wrong foot from the start.”

The meanings of the words in the "get off on the wrong foot" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.

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