Wrong End of the stick
Wrong End of the stick : Phrases
A misunderstanding or distortion.
We're on the wrong end of the stick again - we waited at the airport when the prize arrived at the train station.
This phrase refers to a walking stick held upside down, which does not help a walker much. Originating in the 1400s as worse end of the staff, this term was changed to the current wording only in the late 1800s.
Alternative: The Romans invented the flush toilet, but not toilet paper; and their lavatories were communal affairs, where one would go and chew the fat over the day's happenings with whoever else was in at the time. Personal cleanliness was addressed with a cloth or a sponge which lived in a bowl of water at one end of the lavatorium, and which was passed from person to person by means of a stick. It is easy - if rather stomach-churning - to imagine someone deep in conversation not looking when the stick was passed to them, and therefore getting hold of the wrong end of it. Thanks to Robert Day.
Related Phrase: Short End Of The Stick.
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