Something we really need to nip in the bud is the typo “nip in the butt.” I promise you, that’s not the correct version of this idiom.
This expression goes back to gardening. If you’re trimming back something problematic, you nip it in the bud, removing the buds before they grew into something bigger, wilder, havoc-wreaking, and generally other than what you wanted.
Are your roses getting out of hand? Are your strawberries taking over the rest of the garden? Is that Virginia Creeper strangling the life out of everything?
You know what you need to do about that? Nip it in the bud.
The phrase “nip it in the bud” as we know it today, meaning to stop something before it grows into a bigger problem, has been used since at least the early 1600s. I don’t know when the confusion set in, but it certainly has. You’ll commonly find this phrase written as “nix it in the bud” and “nix it in the butt,” as well as the ever popular “nip it in the butt,” but none of these are the correct form.
We’re not talking anatomy. We’re talking flowers, folks. Let’s take the time to get this one right.
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