off on the wrong foot


off on the wrong foot


  • off to a bad start
  • begin something incorrectly
  • begin badly
  • start off something in a way that is likely to fail

Example Sentences

  1. Their relationship started off on the wrong foot when they had a huge misunderstanding.
  2. His career started off on the wrong foot when the company he joined had to shut down because of recession.
  3. We had started off on the wrong foot, but over time as we got to know each other, we developed a bond and trust for each other.
  4. Would you give some advice on how to start my new business? I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot.
  5. He started off on the wrong foot in his new job when he had a bit of an argument with his manager.


The origin of the phrase is unclear. There are theories which say that the wrong foot refers to the left foot, since there is an age old bias for the right side. Since we have “right and left” and “right and wrong”, left tends to get associated with wrong. Another theory suggests that the phrase comes from the military, where in a march, all have to start with the same foot, which is usually the left foot. So in this case the right foot is the wrong foot. The phrase has been in use since the 16th century.

Share your thoughts1 Thought

“Off on the wrong foot”, this phrase is used to describe a situation that begins incorrectly or unfavorably. For example: At work: “I got off on the wrong foot at my new job when I was late on the first day. This made a bad initial impression that I had to work hard to overcome.”
In a relationship: “I got off on the wrong foot with my mother-in-law when I forgot her birthday. Since then, I have been trying to improve our relationship.”

On a project: “I got off on the wrong foot on my last DIY project when I bought the wrong materials. “This resulted in delays and additional costs.”

At a social event: “I got off on the wrong foot at the party when I accidentally spilled my drink on the host. “I apologized and offered to help clean up, but the incident was quite embarrassing.”

As for a clearer idea, dogmatic about its daily use, I could say that “getting off on the wrong foot” is a phrase that reminds us of the importance of preparing properly and acting thoughtfully. Although we can all get off to a bad start, it is crucial to learn from these mistakes and do everything possible to correct the situation and improve. Ultimately, this phrase teaches us that a bad start does not have to define the final result. With effort and determination, we can overcome initial obstacles and succeed.

The main idea of the text is to explain the meaning of this phrase, provide examples of its use in sentences, and discuss possible theories about its origin.

Now, here are four constructive ideas of my own:
Context of use: This phrase is commonly used in contexts where a new task, relationship, or project is started. It is useful to describe situations in which the first actions or decisions lead to negative results.
Importance of first impression: The phrase highlights the importance of a good start or a positive first impression, as it can influence the development and outcome of a situation.

Learning Opportunity: Although the phrase has a negative connotation, it can also be seen as a learning opportunity. If something starts off badly, steps can be taken to correct course and improve the situation.
Culture and language: The discussion of the origin of the phrase shows how cultural beliefs can influence language. The association of “left” with “wrong” reflects a long-standing preference for the right side.

‒ Robles María February 1, 2024

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