Oft-Misheard Phrases in the Workplace

There’s an affliction that affects many millions of Americans in the workplace, and it’s time to bring that affliction to light. There’s perhaps nothing more benignly embarrassing than uttering one of these often misheard phrases during a work meeting, much less writing them down in a widely distributed email or memo. Perhaps it’s time to set things straight once and for all, and help bring our less fortunate colleagues out of the darkness by setting them on the righteous path to using the correct version of these phrases.

Which version of each of these phrases do you think is the correct one?

“the long pull” or “the long pole”

“flush out” or “flesh out”

“all intensive purposes” or “all intents and purposes”

“could care less” or “couldn’t care less”

Do you have other examples of phrases that are repeatedly used in the workplace in the wrong way? Your colleagues always appreciate your honest feedback, the more pedantic the better.

Update: in a recent conversation with a colleague, I also learned that “beg(s) the question” is another phrase that is often misused in the workplace, amongst other contexts. The phrase is used to describe a form of argumentative circular reasoning, but it has widely evolved to be used to describe situations where “raise the question” or “invites the question” are actually appropriate.