get the wrong end of the stick

get the wrong end of the stick
also, get hold of the wrong end of the stick

Meaning | Synonyms

  • to understand something in the wrong way
  • false interpretation
  • to not understand the situation in the right manner
  • getting the incorrect part
  • misconstrue
  • misinterpret
  • make a mistake
  • misunderstand or misread
  • get it wrong
  • err
  • take something amiss

Example Sentences

  1. When Jack and Taylor arrived at the award function together, everyone got the wrong end of the stick.
  2. You got the wrong end of the stick – I never meant that.
  3. I think I get hold of the wrong end of the stick maybe she was pointing out someone else,not me.
  4. You’ve got the wrong end of the stick, she is not going abroad, and I am going instead.


Although many suggestions have been made regarding this phrase, the common one relates it to the walking sticks and mistakenly seizing hold of the dirty and muddy end which is the wrong end of the stick. It may also refer to a walking stick held upside down which is not going to ease the walker.

It apparently originated in the 1400s as “worse end of the staff” and later changed to “get the wrong end of the stick” in the late 1800s.

Some linguists have also pointed out to the roman lavatory practice of cleaning their backsides with a sponge on a stick – picking up the end of the stick which was previously used by someone else would absolutely be unhygienic.


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Idiom of the Day

put your foot in it

Meaning: say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone

Example: Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she's not expecting but had just put on weight. Read on


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