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On the wrong foot and on the right foot

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  • Starting off on the wrong foot and starting off on the right foot are two idioms that have opposite meanings. The origin of the idea of having a wrong foot and a right foot may have its origins in antiquity. We will examine of the meanings of starting off on the wrong foot and starting off on the right foot as well as two possible origins of these phrases. Also, we will look at some examples of how to use these phrases in sentences.

    To start off on the wrong foot means to begin things in an inauspicious manner, to start things off badly. The phrase get off on the wrong foot means the same thing. Conversely, the phrases start off on the right foot and get off on the right foot means to begin things auspiciously, to start things off well. The phrase “we got off on the wrong foot” is often used to convey that two people made a poor first impression on each other.

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    The idea of wrong foot and right foot probably has its roots in Ancient Greece, where the concept of the left was associated with dark or negative things. This idea was adopted by the Romans, the word for left was sinister, its alternate meanings were harmful, adverse, unfavorable. An alternate explanation for the terms start off on the wrong foot and start off on the right foot is the method of marching that soldiers employ. If every soldier doesn’t start on the right foot, the group will be out of step with each other. Related phrases are starts off on the wrong foot, started off on the wrong foot, starting off on the right foot, etc.

    Examples

    The Cougars and Ducks both started their season off on the wrong foot. (The Seattle Times)

    But they got off on the wrong foot when it was reported, in early July, that there was an under-the-radar advisory group examining entry requirements at Boston Latin and the city’s two other exam schools. (The Boston Globe)

    Here’s a quick rundown of five of his videos that could get you started on the right foot in the wake of the apocalypse. (Popular Mechanics Magazine)

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