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When I was a kid my father had a file holder on his desk that was like a hybrid between a letter rack and a lazy susan. His secretaries would put things in there he needed to deal with immediately.
The first time I ever heard someone say "I'll put that in my circular file" I formed an immediate association with the filing tool on my father's desk and the phrase. Obviously very important things went in the circular file!
Well into my adult life I'd use that phrase in conversation, not realizing I was implying that I would immediately throw the item I had just been given into the trash.
Boss: Ok, this project is critically important.
Me: I'll put it in my circular file right away!
Boss: .... Uhh ....
My family name is pronounced "Wah" and I thought when my parents were talking about a large number of something they were talking about the "'Wah' Zoo," meaning our family or our house. So it was a large amount of something that we had. I was VERY confused when I heard a friend using the term "up the wazoo" in regards to her family . . . I told her she should use the term "Jones's zoo" since that was her last name.
I had a large group of girlfriends with whom I walked to and from elementary school. We always walked in the street because on the sidewalk we had to walk in a line (and it was a small town so traffic was minimal). One day I went home and announced to my mom that we were the "street walkers". She cracked up and then suggested that we come up with a different term to describe ourselves. It was many years before I understood why.
When I was little, my brother would always say to me "You're sttttt....upendous!!" I would get so upset because I thought stupendous meant stupid, so I would always tell on him, and my mum would just go "So?"
I used to believe (thanks to my brother...) that whenever anybody said 'They', they were talking about my other brother's class. "They're going to build a huge bridge across the river." "Who's they?" "Greg's class!"
I used to think the expression "to be in a quandry" was "to be in a quarry" It seemed logical to me because if you were stuck in a quarry this would definitely be a big problem!
I used to believe that the saying "I was a pawn in that situation" was actually I was a prawn which made sense because that meant I was a little shrimp and people could boss me around.
I used to hear random words and start using them out of context.
For example, my dad did something funny, and I said to my mother, "Dad's such a jerk".
Fortunately I never attempted it with any swear words.
i used to believe that if you were sat in a comfortable chair for example you were 'comfty', not 'comfy' and also that 'helicopters' were 'helicockters'
Until I was nearly six, I thought that lasagna was called "vagina". My aunt used to make vegetable lasagna, which i loved, and I enthusiastically always told her "I LOVE vagina!"
I wrote in my first degree essay that a bilingual friend spoke Polish because she had grown up in Walsall. The lecturer wrote (quite harshly I feel!) "I wasn't aware there was a large Polish community in Birmingham". I'm just glad papers were marked anonymously!
I used to believe - until maybe the age of 12 - that the Pullitzer Prize was in fact the "Pullet Surprise," as in, "Surprise! You won!"
I was born in 1940, and was approaching age 5 when World War II ended. During the war, the Japanese were called "Japs." Naturally, when I discovered that we were also fighting the Germans, I made the leap and determined that "Germs" must be short for "German." For a while it made sense to me that the Germs were making people sick.
When I was little, and we were sneaking around trying to be quiet, everytime I peered out into the hallway or around a corner, I would whisper "The ghost is clear". My brother or friends, never knew I was saying "ghost" instead of "coast" because I was whispering, so they didn't correct me. It was a really long time before I discovered it was "coast". I was embarrassed.
I used to think veternarians and vegetarians were the same thing. In my mind, veternarians didn't eat meat because they loved animals. It seemed logical at the time.
I used to believe that when you had a "crush" on someone, they had to lie down on the ground in front of you, and you would step on their arm.
These still trip me up sometimes:
Pizza Hot = Pizza Hut
Holland Oats = Hal and Oats
Entire State Building= Empire State Building
Crackle Barrel = Cracker Barrel
I used to believe that the expression "old-timey" was actually "old Tommy." My great uncle's name was Tommy and with my mother's thick southern drawl, "Tommy" and "timey" sounded very similar.
I thought this until I was at least 12 or so.
In Holland we have a sentence when you are scared by a sudden noise or something. I was sitting at the backseat of my mothers bike when someone drove by so fast my mother shouted out 'I scared me a hat!' I remember looking at the sky seeking this hat. I thought it should float somewhere.
I always used to believe the word was "acoma". People always talked about someone being in acoma, and if they could come out of acoma, and what would they remember. Not until one time I was talking and said "the acoma" did I really learn the truth. :(