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put one's foot in one's mouth
c) to spontaneously say something foolish
foot in the mouth = ins Fettnäpfchen treten
foot in the mouth: approximately 160,000 hits
A comment last year by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was awarded the FOOT IN MOUTH prize Monday by Britain's Plain English Campaign.
"He's certainly not the first celebrity to put his FOOT IN HIS MOUTH — and he won't be the last."
(U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in response to racial comments made by New York radio show host Don Imus)
Did you know?
put one’s foot in one’s mouth
- to say something embarrassing, foolish or tactless
The phrase to put one’s foot in one’s mouth dates from about 1900 and is sometimes expressed as having foot-in-mouth disease, such as "He has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease." This is a play on the foot-and-mouth (sometimes called hoof-and-mouth) disease that afflicts cattle, causing eruptions to break out around the mouth and hoofs.
In the fight against unclear and bewildering application of the English language, British community activist Christie Maher launched the Plain English Campaign in 1979 by shredding hundreds of government forms in London’s Parliament Square. In addition to its lobbying efforts, the Plain English Campaign sponsors an annual Foot In Mouth Award for the most baffling quotes by public figures.
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld won the award in 2003 for this statement:
"Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."
Here are a few other noteworthy foot-in-mouth moments:
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."
British super model Naomi Campbell: "I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta."
U.S. President George Bush: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Hollywood actress Brooke Shields: "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."
Former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle: "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, when asked whether he visited the Parthenon during a trip to Greece: "I can't really remember the names of the clubs that we went to."
IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS TODAY
say something like:
"Talk about putting my foot in my mouth! I asked one of my colleagues today if she was pregnant, not knowing that she had just gained a lot of weight."
Thanks to Celine for suggesting today’s word!
Today's Learning Tip (7):
Recall some Synonyms
When you learn the new word, recall other English words with similar meanings - having alternative ways of saying something gives you more precision and flexibility in speaking.
more learning tips
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