The Monday Peeve — Chomping at the Bit

Every Monday, Paula Light publishes her “The Monday Peeve” prompt in which she gives us “the chance to blow off a little steam at the beginning of the week, so then we can go merrily on our way once again.”

I’m going to do a lot of blowing off today. Are you ready for my rant?

This may sound petty, but as I admitted in my provocative question post last Wednesday, I’m a peeveblogger. And one thing that peeves me off is when people use the expressing “chomping at the bit.” Why does that peeve me off? Simple. It’s not the correct idiom, which is “champing at the bit.” Yes, it’s “champing” not “chomping.”

50D55F6F-302E-43CD-A9EA-D01121F93BCFThe idiom comes from horse racing. A bit is part of the apparatus that goes in the horse’s mouth and connects to the bridle and reins so the horse can be controlled and directed by the jockey on its back. The bit fits into a toothless ridge of the horse’s mouth, so the horse never really bites the bit. But it can grind his teeth or jaw against the bit, and if it does, it means that the horse is either nervous, or really excited about racing. That’s how the phrase “champing at the bit” entered everyday communications: to indicate extreme eagerness.

Most people use the phrase today to indicate when someone is eager or anxious to do something. They are said to be champing at the bit, not chomping at the bit, nor chomping on the bit. So what am I supposed to do when someone says or writes “chomping at the bit”? Am I supposed to just sit back, swallow hard, and let whoever said or wrote it mangle and abuse the English language? Probably some, or maybe most, of you think I should.

While I’m on a roll, it also drives me crazy when people say “flush out” when what they really mean is “flesh out.” As I’m sure you know, to flesh out an idea is to give it substance, whereas to flush out something is to reveal a thing previously concealed. Flesh out and flush out are not synonymous or interchangeable.

Or how about those who say that they could care less, when what they really mean is that they couldn’t care less? “I couldn’t care less” means that it’s not possible for me to care any less about the subject at hand than I already do. On the other hand, “I could care less” literally means “I care more than I might seem to.” If you could care less, you’re saying that you care a little and it’s possible that you could care even less, which is the opposite of not caring at all.

And, finally, if you don’t know the difference between the Latin abbreviations “e.g.” and “i.e.,” don’t use them. Use, instead, “for example” or “that is.”

Okay, I’m done.TMP

31 thoughts on “The Monday Peeve — Chomping at the Bit

  1. Paula Light December 9, 2019 / 10:36 am

    I take these things with a grain assault rather then go all pre-madonna about each pacific instance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marleen December 10, 2019 / 12:00 pm

      Grain assault …🧐

      Almost missed that one!

      It might not seem like it, but
      the following is here for a reason.

      Chris Hedges on Corporate Control of the World

      RESISTANCE IS … not rational. It is not about the pursuit of happiness. It is about the pursuit of freedom. Resistance accepts that even if we fail, there is an inner freedom that comes with defiance. And perhaps this is the only freedom and true happiness we will ever know. To resist evil is the highest achievement of human life. It is the supreme act of love. It is to carry the cross, as the theologian James Cone reminds us, and to be acutely aware that what we are carrying is also what we will die upon. Most of those who resist … are defeated, at least, in the cold calculation of the powerful. And the final, and perhaps most important, quality of resistance, as Cone writes, is that it inverts the world’s value system. Hope rises up out of defeat. Those who resist stand, regardless of the cost, with the crucified. This is their magnificence, and it is their power. …. The elites can crush them, physically, but they cannot buy them off. …. Our cells of resistance will have to be rebuilt from scratch. The corporate state, however, is in trouble. It has no credibility. …. The U.S. government, subservient to corporate power, has become a burlesque. … How do we defy radical evil?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paula Light December 10, 2019 / 12:04 pm

        Animals know to resist. It’s innate to escape the cage, the yoke, the oppressor. Freedom over security, over comfort, over the reliable food source. Interesting…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Marleen December 9, 2019 / 10:41 am

    And, finally, if you don’t know the difference between the Latin abbreviations “e.g.” and “i.e.,” don’t use them. Use, instead, “for example” or “that is.”

    Good advice.

    Of course, I appreciated all the examples.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sadje December 9, 2019 / 10:49 am

    This I do understand. Not that I would be champing at the bit to correct anyone. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango December 9, 2019 / 10:55 am

      I probably wouldn’t correct anyone. I’d just sit there an stew.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. slmret December 9, 2019 / 12:06 pm

    Adding to your rant, how about “loose” instead of “lose,” or “except” instead of “accept.” And there are may others like these. I agree with you, too, about i.e. and eg. But having NEVER heard “champing at the bit, ” I took the liberty of looking it up — “champing” is defined as “another term for chomp.” Chomp is defined as “to bite noisily,” or “to fret” It would appear then that either is correct.


    • Fandango December 9, 2019 / 12:21 pm

      Totally agree about lose/loose and except/accept. As to “champ” versus “chomp,” the actual expression is “champing at the bit,” not “chomping.” And other than when using that expression, I’ve never heard anyone use the word “champ” as a substitute for “chomp.” But perhaps I am being too rigid.


  5. Marleen December 9, 2019 / 12:31 pm

    How about “then” and “than” used by some people who otherwise do pretty well with their writing? It amazes me to see people confused by which is which.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. newepicauthor December 9, 2019 / 12:47 pm

    I have always said, “Chomping at the bit”, referring to impatient horses that tend to anxiously chew on their bits before races.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango December 9, 2019 / 1:10 pm

      And what impatient horses that tend to anxiously chew on their bits before races are champing at their bits.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Christine Bolton December 9, 2019 / 10:01 pm

    How about when people who say “irregardless” or “unorganized” Both of those drive me crazy 😳

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango December 9, 2019 / 10:38 pm

      I am definitely bothered when people say “irregardless,” which is not a real word. Maybe they are confusing it with “irrespective” or “irresponsible.” As to “unorganized,” though, I’m okay with that. It means “not organized.” I was once told that “disorganized” should be used to refer to something that was once organized but is now no longer organized. But “unorganized” should be used to describe something that never was organized.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christine Bolton December 10, 2019 / 5:51 am

        Hmmm, never heard that one so ‘ll probably just carry on being bothered! LOL 🙂
        Another pet peeve is when people say “where are you at?” instead of “where are you?” 😑

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Marleen December 11, 2019 / 12:59 pm

    “Couldn’t agree with you more; couldn’t agree with you more,” said Senator Harris, to the Honorable Michael E. Horowitz (IG of the DOJ), in a committee hearing, today. She and he, and Senator Mike Lee, and many more, agree for a need to allow the IG to investigate attorneys in the DOJ — as IGs of all other departments are allowed and entrusted to do of their departments. Legislation to provide for that has been passed by the House and sits idle [not idol] per the Senate (where Moscow Mitch refers to himself as “the grim reaper” where stuff dies).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. leigha66 December 11, 2019 / 6:27 pm

    I had never heard champing, only chomping. I know I am not great with my English, so if I ever throw out a “couldn’t agree with you more” you have permission to yell at me. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango December 11, 2019 / 7:27 pm

      “I couldn’t agree with you more” is fine. But “I could care less” when you mean “I couldn’t care less” is wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango December 22, 2019 / 9:53 pm

      I’ve been a fan of Sade for a long time. Great song. Maybe my Trumpian friend will say that the proper lyrics should have been “Could Love You More.”


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