What does the idiom "get the wrong end of the stick" mean?
Are you using the idiom get the wrong end of the stick but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the get the wrong end of the stick idiom and the situations in which it is used.
Meaning of "get the wrong end of the stick"
The phrase 'get the wrong end of the stick' is an idiom used to describe a situation in which someone has misunderstood or misinterpreted a situation or a statement. This phrase suggests that instead of understanding the true meaning of something, the person has mistakenly heard or interpreted the wrong meaning or implication.
This phrase is believed to have originated in the 1800s. At this time, it was common to carry sticks such as walking sticks, a cane, or a parasol. When someone wanted to make a point, they would punctuate the conversation by jabbing their stick in the ground. When someone got the wrong end of the stick, it meant that they had incorrectly interpreted the point the speaker was trying to make. It was as if they grabbed the wrong end of the stick and therefore were unable to hear the true message.
This phrase is used to describe misunderstanding. It is often used in a humorous way when someone has misinterpreted what someone else has said or done. It can be used to describe the misunderstanding of a situation, the misinterpretation of someone's words, or even a miscommunication between two people. It can be used in both informal and formal settings, although it is more commonly used in informal conversation.
- "He got the wrong end of the stick and thought I was angry with him, when in fact I was just tired."
- "I think you got the wrong end of the stick. I was just trying to help."
- "He got the wrong end of the stick and thought I was suggesting he quit his job, when in fact I was just offering him advice."
- "I think you got the wrong end of the stick. I was just trying to make a joke, not insult you."
Idioms with similar meaning
"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.