wrong end of the stick, the

Idioms & Phrases

wrong end of the stick, the

A misunderstanding or distortion, as in We ordered a "full quart" of rice, but the clerk got hold of the wrong end of the stick and sent us "four quarts" instead. This expression refers to a walking stick held upside down, which does not help a walker much. It originated in the 1400s as worse end of the staff and changed to the current wording only in the late 1800s. Also see short end of the stick.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: wrong
Next Definition: wrong scent, on the
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for wrong end of the stick, the
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing wrong end of the stick, the
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature