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Blog post 1/13/22: The Language of Mistakes

Happy New Year! I’m starting the new year off with a mini vocabulary lesson that may cross over into therapy (ha ha). But after making a mistake in a professional setting yesterday, I got to thinking about how we talk about our reactions to our mistakes in English.

If you’re anything like me:

· Maybe you’re hard on yourself after making a mistake, whether it’s a musical, language-related, professional or personal mistake.

· Maybe you talk about your mistakes to yourself in a different way than you talk to others.

Let’s explore some vocabulary for talking about making a mistake:

Interjections (one word says it all):


Shoot! (Euphemism for s**t!)


Dang! (Euphemism for Damn!)

Other Phrases:

Sorry! (Make this one stronger by adding “so”: So sorry!)

I made a mistake.

I blew it.

I screwed that up.

I f****ed that up. (An obscenity, also called the “F” word)

I should have known that! (Sometimes this is true. At other times it is impossible to have known.)

What was I thinking?

I’m (so) embarrassed!


· Which of these interjections or phrases do you use to talk about your mistakes in English?

· Which are new to you?

· What other words or phrases do you use for talking about mistakes?

· Do you talk about your mistakes differently to others than you do to yourself? Why/why not?

· Which of these words or phrases make it harder or easier to learn from your mistake?

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