Career & Education

Different ways to say mistake

Sunday, March 12, 2017    

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We’ve all had moments where we’ve really and truly screwed something up (maybe not on a historic, global scale like the February 26, 2017 Oscars). But still, we’re human, and mistakes do happen.

There are a lot of words to describe things going south in a hurry. We’ve gathered a few here. You’ll notice they’re very close in definition. Maybe there are so many synonyms for messing up because it can be such an emotional experience.


To botch something is “to do or say it in a bungling manner”. The word originally came from Middle English (from around 1350 – 1400). Best example: “Warren Beatty botched the Oscar announcement for Best Picture.”


We define goof as “to spoil or make a mess of (something)”. A great example: “You really goofed up the job.”

Bollix says bollix means “to do (something) badly; bungle (often followed by up). Eg: ‘His interference bollixed up the whole deal.’” This word is also spelt bolix and bollocks, which has a decidedly British feel to it. Bollocks generally means rubbish or nonsense. (Just be aware that bollocks can also refer to testicles, which is totally separate from what we’re talking about right now).


Snafu is an acronym meaning “situation normal: all fouled up.” This bit of military slang dates back to 1941.

Muck Up

Another term that sounds primarily British. If you ruin something or bungle it (there’s that word again) to the point of complete confusion, you’ve mucked it up. It totally works if you try saying it out loud in a British accent.

Make Hash Of

The most popular definition of hash is a type of food consisting of chopped meat. It also means “to discuss,” as in “We’re going to hash it out at the meeting.” Rehash means “to recount or retell something,” like “He rehashed the whole story for the benefit of those who were late.” In this instance, though, we’re talking about to make hash of, which is “to spoil or botch”. For example, “The new writer made a hash of his first assignment.”


You tend to hear this word at basketball games. The announcer will say: “He really flubbed that shot.” You can probably guess from context what they mean.


This term is used to describe a person who chronically makes mistakes, as in “He’s a real foul-up.” We define it this way: “a condition of difficulty or disorder brought on by inefficiency, stupidity, etc”.


The word muddle is also a perfect example of what happened at Oscars: “to mix up in a confused or bungling manner; jumble”. Oops. And in case you missed it last night, here’s the big snafu/flub/foul-up on everybody’s lips. Do you have a favourite screwed-up term? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.





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