78 Adults Share The Common Words And Phrases They Hilariously Misunderstood As Children

When I was about 7 years old, my father brought me to his work to sing Christmas carols to his colleagues. I was thrilled to get them into the holiday spirit (and loved the attention of having everyone listen to my beautiful voice), so I belted out each song loud and proud. And while singing Feliz Navidad (a classic), I confidently sang the line “prospero año y felicidad” as “prospero baño y felicidad”. If you’re not familiar with Spanish, instead of “year”, I was saying bathroom

As mortifying as this experience was for child Adelaide, it’s a great story to tell today. And apparently, it is incredibly common for kids to hilariously misunderstand adults. Reddit users have been sharing the common words and phrases they misunderstood as children, and their stories are much more hilarious than mine.

We’ve gathered some of the best ones down below, including some you may be embarrassed to admit you can relate to, so be sure to upvote all of your favorites. Let us know in the comments if you or your little ones were ever confused by any of these terms or sayings, and then if you’re interested in checking out another Bored Panda article featuring adorable ways kids misunderstand adults, look no further than right here

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Euthanize. I thought it was youth-anise, and meant to make someone younger. Telling gramma she needed to be Euthanized did not go over well during Christmas dinner

Image credits: Rabidmushroom


I always thought Alzheimer's disease was "Old Timer's disease." Mostly because it happened to old timers and that made sense to me.

Image credits: _Jimmy_Rustler


Death Sentence.

I thought that the executioner actually spoke a sentence into your ear that killed you if you heard it. I figured that's why he wore a hood, so that no one could read his lips.

Image credits: Sykotik


My dad's friend said his hairline was receding. I thought he meant "re-seeding", like he was growing more hair. I said, "Hopefully it doesn't seed too much. You don't want to look like a werewolf."

Image credits: captainmagictrousers


I thought when you moved somewhere, you had to find a person in that town who needed to move to your town and then swap homes with them

Image credits: Jux_


When I was young my father said to me:

"Knowledge is Power....Francis Bacon"

I understood it as "Knowledge is power, France is Bacon".

For more than a decade I wondered over the meaning of the second part and what was the surreal linkage between the two? If I said the quote to someone, "Knowledge is power, France is Bacon" they nodded knowingly. Or someone might say, "Knowledge is power" and I'd finish the quote "France is Bacon" and they wouldn't look at me like I'd said something very odd but thoughtfully agree. I did ask a teacher what did "Knowledge is power, France is bacon" mean and got a full 10 minute explanation of the Knowledge is power bit but nothing on "France is bacon". When I prompted further explanation by saying "France is Bacon?" in a questioning tone I just got a "yes". at 12 I didn't have the confidence to press it further. I just accepted it as something I'd never understand.

It wasn't until years later I saw it written down that the penny dropped

Image credits: Lard_Baron


Growing up Catholic, there were times in Mass when the congregation would say "Thanks be to God". Well I heard "Thanks Speedy God" and assumed we were applauding his fast delivery on prayers.

Image credits: kcgnarly


Not only as a child, but wellllllllllll into adulthood - only to be corrected by my wife and forever mocked since - I swear to god I thought it was "endsmeat" as in a really cheap meat dish.

*we were so poor we couldn't make endsmeat*

Image credits: Otto_Maller


My dad was a lawyer and when I was about 9 this boy in class said angrily, 'you're going to be a prostitute when you're old!' I thought he meant prosecute and assumed it was a law job and I nodded my head enthusiastically, ' Yes! Yes! I'm gonna be a prostitute and work for my dad' Following day my parents had one of those formal after school meetings and I only recently connected the dots.

Image credits: missvoodoo25


I thought they were called 'girl cheese sandwiches' and wondered why since boys ate them too.

Image credits: hellotanuki


i thought for a very (almost too long) time that an "only child" was pronounced "lonely child" because they had no siblings.

Image credits: TomKfisherFFW


Getting fired meant that you were set on fire.

Image credits: LightsStayOnInFrisco


I used to think that news reporting of a "body" or "bodies" being found or recovered excluded "head". I was horrified that all of these corpses had been beheaded and the heads were still missing.

Image credits: chief_piggum


I thought "human being" was "human bean" because of my parents' accent. Was always confused as to why I was a bean.

Image credits: Sworn_to_the_dark


I was very sure you could milk all animals like a cow. I have vague memories of trying to milk a dog

Image credits: DStaniforth


I thought "Amen" was said at the end of a prayer to mirror what God would say when he looked down, "Aaah! Men".

Image credits: Crucervix


I always thought that Right Said Fred's song 'I'm Too Sexy' was about his love for the number 264.

I'm... two sixty four. My shirt: two sixty four. My car: two sixty four. Etc.

Image credits: thiscloud


When I was like 5 or 6, one of my dad's friends said that he was going to get a boxing match on *pay-per-view*, and I asked, "Why do you want to watch it on paper? It would look better on TV."

Image credits: VictorBlimpmuscle


I always thought "Euthanasia" was "Youth in Asia" and couldn't figure out why it was a big controversial issue. Yeah there are kids living in asia, so what?

Image credits: LxRogue


I used to mix up terrorist and tourist when I was younger and whenever I went to a foreign place I'd say "I'm a terrorist!"

Image credits: HamBus


I thought women took actual showers with their babies at baby showers. My mom kept asking me if I wanted to go with her to one and I always said no because I didn't want to share a shower with my mom and people think I was a baby. Later I learned its because you get "showered" with gifts and I was sad about all the chicken salad I missed out on.

Image credits: white_girl


My school had us selling chocolate bars as a fund raiser. I thought the guy was calling it a FUN raiser. I was very confused as to how this was supposed to be increasing the level of fun at the school. If anything it was making me have less fun.

Image credits: Doctor-Amazing


I thought Worship was War Ship and my imagination ran wild with thoughts of an epic battle raging for an hour and then everyone went home and relaxed the rest of their Sundays. Such was not the case.

Image credits: underoath1617


For the longest time when I was little I used to think "Jesus Christ!" was "cheesy crust"... I was pretty confused in church. It wasn't until halfway through first grade did I actually confront my mother about it and ask why they kept talking about toast.

Image credits: spunky-omelette


Pubic - always thought it was'public' and it just never made any sense....

Image credits: moonshine211


When I was a young lad, I was helping my Grandpa with chores around the barn. When we cleaned up, he brought out an air compressor to blow out the dust on the floor, he would call this a "Blow job" and would say s**t like, "C'mon, Tantantheman74, let's give this barn a blowjob!" Come Monday morning, my kindergarten teacher asks me what I did on the weekend, to which I replied, "Oh, Grandpa and I did a blowjob in the barn!" My momma told me this story the other day and I am honestly not even mad at that joke, Grandpa is a clever old bastard.

Image credits: Tantantheman74


Somehow I understood that mannequins in department stores were made from real people. My mom couldn't understand why I stayed so close when we went shopping

Image credits: tuxedodiplomat


For some reason I thought the word "sucker" was a compliment. One time a lady at the bank gave me a lollipop and I said, "A sucker from a sucker, right Mom?"

Image credits: carbonetc


I used to think adults were called dults, and if you were referring to one of them you would say a dult.

Image credits: icethepartyplanner


When I was six, I understood what the phrase "_____ nut" (health nut, fitness nut, etc) meant, but I assumed you could swap out the word "nut" for anything else and it would still make sense.

So one day, when my mother wasn't letting me have enough cookies, I called her a "nutrition horse."

This would have been fine EXCEPT I had a speech impediment and couldn't pronounce the letter "s" at the time.

So I ended up, quite literally, calling my mother "a nutrition wh**e."

It took me 12 years to realize why she had been so mad about that one.


God Bless You.

I always heard people just say it quick and assumed for the longest time it was "gablesh you."

I was definitely not raised religious.

Image credits: anon


When space shuttles launched they would roll after takeoff to better orient the cockpit for navigation and communication. it was called a "roll program." if you listen to tapes of the launches you'll hear the astronauts say "initiating roll program" and then from mission control they say "Roger roll, Discovery" or whichever shuttle it might have been. Anyway as a kid I thought they were saying "rock and roll" as in "f**k Yeah! You're headed to SPACE."

Image credits: Someday42


When I heard phrases like "smoking kills" as a kid I genuinely thought you would just drop dead randomly. So when my dad would be smoking his cigarette I would start crying because I thought there was a chance he would just up and disappear.


Tuesday. I had a teacher pronounce it as chooseday. So naturally I thought we got to choose what we wanted to do for the day.


I would get prostitute and protestant mixed up all the time as a child. I had no idea what prostitute was and I didn't understand why people would laugh when I tried to convey that I was protestant.


I thought for a couple months when I was young that when you said "it's a quarter past five" it meant 5:25 since a quarter was 25 cents. I proceeded to use dime and nickel to reference time


Black and white videos/pictures, I thought that people used to only see in black and white and that I was lucky to have the ability to see all the colours


When I was five years old my dog ran away. One night while the dog was still missing, I overheard my mother say the following while cutting a roast: "This is one tough puppy". I FREAKED out. Nothing she said could convince me that she hadn't cooked my beloved dog. Lucky for her, my dog came home that night.


I would cry when I got punished and would tell my mother that I would try harder to "have" (long A) She eventually told me that it was "to behave" and not "be have."


Simply Prima donna I had never seen it writen down and was convinced it ment a time before Madonna was born


I thought everyone lived to the exact same age. Like my brother taunted me for being three years younger than him, but in my mind it was no sweat because I was gonna be alive for 3 years after he died.


My sister used to think that when someone was "buried" they were actually "berried" and covered with a bunch of berries


I didn't realize John Lennon was a different person than Lenin the Soviet Premier as the names are pronounced almost the same and both had a huge impact in the 20th century. The world made a lot more sense once that one got cleared up!


I must have only been about 4 or 5 at the time, but I overheard someone use the word 'necessarily'. I thought they were talking about the company Sara Lee, and couldn't understand why the company didn't advertise their full name of Nessa Sara Lee. I remember next to nothing from that age, but that's one thing that never left my mind. I thought about it constantly to the point that I'm now 26 and can remember my little child self pondering that question from time to time. I can't remember when exactly I realised what had happened, but I do remember that I felt like quite an idiot.


I thought that all cats were "girls" and all dogs were "boys."


I though the phrase "God forbid" was "God for bid"... going once, going twice, SOLD!!!!


"Lactose intolerant" was "lacks tose and tolerance" to me as a 5th grader. I assumed that lacking whatever "tose" was meant that you were a d-bag who doesn't like milk.


"If 'so and so' is going to go jump off a bridge, are you going to go to?"

My mom said this to me when I wanted to do something just because my friend was going to go do it. I took it literally and was really excited to go bridge jumping. I put on my swimsuit and packed a little beach bag, went downstairs and asked my mom if she was ready to take me over to her house to go bridge jumping.

Image credits: swissmissys


Don Quixote. I misunderstood it as "Donkey Hotay" and thought it was about the adventures of a donkey named Hotay.


"When I was growing up".

Adults use it to refer to their childhood, but I didn't understand that childhood to adulthood was a gradual transition. I thought it was a "Mario mushroom" type event that occurs at some point, only lasting a few seconds, and that all these "when I was growing up" stories all happened in those few seconds.



I knew getting snapped with a rubber band hurt, and obviously getting shots was worse. So I imagined they involved some kind of terrifying rubber-band-propelled syringe.


I thought mental as in "You're mental." meant sane so when a kid in third grade said that to me I looked him dead in the eyes and said "Yeah, I am." I only realized much later that it probably made me look even more unhinged.


Skinny dipping.

I thought it was just a fancy name for diving. It is not. 9 year old me was quite embarrassed when my stepdad explained it to me, by yelling across the yard "skinny dipping means swimming naked, and you're not doing that!" We were at the house of a friend of his from work, and dude had an 11 year old son that I sort of had a crush on.


When I was 10, my sister told me that my grandmother quit smoking "cold turkey". It wasn't until high school when I embarrassed myself telling my friend to try eating cold turkey to help quit smoking that I knew what it really meant


When I was little, I thought "drinking and driving" meant the physical act of drinking a beverage, not just alcohol. One day when I was 6 I told my mother not to drink and drive while she sipped a Diet Pepsi and she just laughed at me



I walked up for more birthday cupcakes after already having seconds and asked for minutes


I thought that when waitstaff asked "soup or salad?" they were talking about "supersalad."


I thought the 7 in 7up was a T, so referred to it as 'a can of tup' until I was 13


Guerilla warfare: the first few times I heard this, I imagined the army was giving machine guns to great apes.


I thought blisters were a punishment for wearing your shoes on the wrong feet and that if you did the blister truck would catch you and hit your feet with the blister stick.

"Wear your shoes on the right feet or they'll give you blisters"

Mom meant the shoes. My paranoid over active 5 year old brain pictured some sort of terrible ice cream truck that doles out punishment.




Several = seven times


"Elemeno P" instead of " L M N O P". I thought an "elemeno" P was a special version of the letter P


In the Pledge of Allegiance I thought "Whichit Stands" was a place.


I called people boners until I was like six. Someone had said it around halloween and I assumed it was something to do with spooky skeletons. I got a laugh any time I called someone a boner, which kind of reinforced it until one of the older kids gave me some context.


I used to think Volleyball was Balleyball


This actually continued up until fairly recently. I always thought "to each his own" was pronounced "du ee chu zoh" and just assumed it was french or something


There was a hymn they always sang at my Catholic church when I was little, I don't know if it's a common one but I imagine it must be since they seem to all pull from the same songbook. This song had a line in it, "here in the house of the Lord," and I thought it was the f*****g coolest thing ever that out of all the churches in the world, God lived in ours.

It seemed strange to me, since I knew there were fancy ones in Europe that looked prettier, and there were probably some in Jerusalem that Jesus taught at, but it was in the song, so it must be true, right?

I decided that the reason he picked our church must be that the pews have cushions, compared to all the wooden ones at other churches I'd visited. God and the angels need a place to sleep, obviously, so that had to be a reason. I figured when mass was in session and people were sitting and farting on their beds, they were probably all invisible, flying around way up high near the pinnacle of the ceiling where the cross was hung. Lots of time on Sundays was spent squinting and turning my head to the side to try and see them out of the corner of my eye or something.

Then I heard that song sung in a different church, and I realized the mistake I'd made. That was a real revelation in my life.


Keep your nose clean. There was a line in a movie I was watching when I was six that was something like, "He's involved in all these illegal things but somehow still manages to keep his nose clean." and I thought it referred to nose picking so I thought it was hilarious. Like, this guy is super busy being a criminal but he still finds the time to mine for nose gold.


On the weather report I always thought the wind-chill was the wind-shield


"A coma". I thought it was like a section of the hospital, like ICU, called "acoma". "Uncle Jerry is in ICU, Aunt Elaine is in acoma."


I overheard reporters talking about the Gulf War, which I assumed was the golf war. I imagined guys lined up drilling gold balls at each other.


Bob wire. I still mess up "barbed wire" to this day.


I thought "excruciatingly" meant "extremely." I learned it from Pinky and the Brain, but didn't quite get the context.

So, for a few weeks there, apples were excruciatingly big, and candy was excruciatingly delicious


My friend thought that Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover" was actually "Apartheid Lover". I had just learned about apartheid and was then pretty sure he wasn't right.


I never understood what was so bad about taking things for granite.


The machine is "out of order" always sounded like the machine was "out of water". I assumed arcade games and coin operated candy machines needed water to work


When I was very young I used to think the newscasters were saying "We'll be back after these mess-a-juice" instead of messages. I dont know why.


I thought the transformers were 'Robots in the skies'