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get (hold of) the wrong end of the stick
The stick here is a stick with one end that has been carved or shaped, so that it can be used as a walking stick or similar tool. If you hold it by the wrong end you can’t use it correctly. In the past, if you had the right or the wrong end of the stick, you had, or didn’t have, the advantage in a bargain or contest. Now, the expression is used to refer to someone who has misunderstood a situation or a story.
I was trying to explain to Tom why I couldn’t see him yesterday, and he got the wrong end of the stick and thought I was breaking up with him!
the wrong end of the stick
at the crack of dawn
The word crack was used in the 18th century to mean ‘a moment’, in reference to the time occupied by the crack, or shot, of a gun. It was used in at the crack of dawn (and sometimes at the crack of day) to express the idea of the moment when night becomes day. It is now used to mean ‘very early in the morning’.
I had to be up at the crack of dawn so I wouldn’t miss my flight.
at the crack of dawn
have a field day
In the past, a field day was a day on which military troops were gathered together for different exercises–it was a chance to demonstrate their skill. From this developed the sense of a day full of exciting events or opportunities. Today, if somebody has a field day, they do a lot of something they enjoy, though the idiom is often used in contexts in which this may cause problems for other people.
Looks like the kids are having a field day with that new computer you got them for Christmas. I just hope it doesn’t interfere with their schoolwork.
having a field day
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