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50 Mistreated Words and Desecrated Phrases: Nip it in the butt

Let me put this as delicately as possible, so as not to become a pain in the ... well, you know.

When someone wants to curtail an undesirable habit, prevent a negative pattern from forming, or stop a bad process from becoming a pattern, he or she might decide to nip it in the bud.

It’s a gardening term, folks. If a horticulturalist snips off a blossom before it blooms (or yanks out a weed before it flowers), then he or she likely has the best chance of heading off proliferation of the plant.

Nipping it in the bud is acting promptly to keep a problem from getting too big and out of control. At least, that is the intention.

Nipping it in the butt is another matter altogether. 

Just ask my neighbor’s dog, whose butt-biting behavior is something I wish his owner had nipped in the bud.

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