5 Misused Idioms Making You Sound Dumb

It’s funny how a simple grammatical error can leave a lasting impression on others' perception of your intelligence. And the English language is full of traps that even the smartest of us can occasionally fall into.

And, spellcheck won’t save you, but Correctica, a new tool from Internet startup Knowingly will. Inc​.com contributor Christina Demarais provides a closer look at 20 of the most commonly misused phrases identified by Correctica. Here are 5 that may be sneaking into your emails and other written communications most frequently.

Sneak (Peak or Peek?)

Both are correct spellings of the word, but each has a very different meaning. The correct choice is ‘peek,’ which means a quick look, while ‘peak’ is a mountaintop. So next time you are sending word about an early look, make sure you are giving a sneak peek, not a…sneaky summit?

(Peace or Piece?) of Mind

Technically, depending on your goal, both could be correct. But I doubt you plan to give out actual pieces of your brain. So 99.9% of the time, use ‘peace’ to indicate calmness and tranquility.

For All Intensive Purposes

Intensive means, “concentrated; thorough; vigorous,” and I’m sure the statement you are making applies to more purposes than just “intensive” ones. The phrase you are trying to say is actually ‘for all INTENTS AND purposes.” When using this phrase, you are communicating the idea that something is “officially” or “effectively” true, regardless of the intent or purpose.

(Do or Due?) Diligence

Diligence is not a verb, so you can’t actually ‘do’ it. The correct phrase is ‘due diligence’ and comes from legalese. More casually, it means to investigate a person, opportunity or situation before joining in an official commitment. So while you should always DO your DUE diligence, you can never DO diligence.

Case and Point

The correct statement is “case IN point.” Demarais was only able to point out that the phrase’s meaning is derived from a dialect of Old French and doesn’t make logical sense today. But the idiom is a fixed idiom, no questions asked.

If these 5 phrases have (peaked, peeked or piqued?) your interest in discovering other idioms you might be misusing, check out the rest of Demarais’ article for 15 others. And then, check for these incorrect idioms in your emails, LinkedIn profile, website, blog, etc.

Amanda Levin

Amanda Levin

Amanda is the Director of Operations at SalesFuel. She previously specialized in major accounts research and digital marketing trends for SalesFuel Today. She holds a Bachelors in Media Studies from Ohio University.