English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Mistakes - Errors
|back the wrong horse||If you back or bet on the wrong
horse, for example the loser in a
contest, match or election, you support the
When I voted for him I was convinced he would win, but I backed the wrong horse!
|bark up the wrong tree||A person who is barking up the wrong
tree is doing the wrong thing, because
their beliefs or ideas are incorrect or
The police are barking up the wrong tree if they think Joey stole the car - he can't drive!
|botch up/make a botch of||If
you spoil something, or make a mess of it,
by doing a job badly or incorrectly, you
make a botch of it or you botch it
Danny tried to assemble the new desk, but he made a botch of it.
eat humble pie
If you eat crow, you admit that you
were wrong about something and apologize.
He had no option but to eat crow and admit that his analysis was wrong.
|eat one's words||If you eat your
words, you have to admit that your were
mistaken in what you said.
After predicting disastrous results, he had to eat his words when he saw the success of the new product.
|Freudian slip||A Freudian slip is a mistake made by a
speaker which is considered to reveal their
true thoughts or feelings.
So you got the job - I'm so sad ... Sorry, I mean 'glad'!
|Himalayan blunder||If you stupidly make a serious mistake
or error, you commit a Himalayan
Apparently he lost his job because of a Himalayan blunder.
|overshoot the mark||If you make a
mistake as a result of misjudging something
(situation, distance, amount, etc.), you
overshoot the mark.
He overshot the mark by about 20%.
|see the error of your ways||When someone
sees the error of their ways, they
understand that what they are doing is wrong
and accept to change their behaviour.
He talked to a counsellor who tried to make him see the error of his ways.
|swallow one's pride||If you swallow
your pride, you accept something
humiliating or embarrassing, for example
having to admit that you are wrong, or that
you have less knowledge that you thought.
When Jill failed the exam, she had to swallow her pride and repeat the course.
|swallow your words||If you swallow
your words, you admit that you were
He said I'd never get the job, but he had to swallow his words when I was appointed.
|trial and error||Attempting to achieve a satisfactory
result by testing and eliminating various
methods until the best one is found is
called trial and error.
Some of the best cooks learn by trial and error.
|wide of the mark||If something is (or falls) wide of
the mark, it is incorrect or
inadequate, or it is not what was expected.
The price offered was wide of the mark; it was sold for ten times more!
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