I found out I’ve been saying this word wrong for nearly forty years and it BLEW MY MIND

This week we went down to Cornwall to stay with my Dad and Step-Mum for a bit of post-Christmas family time. On Wednesday evening we settled down to a game of Balderdash, my Dad’s favourite.

For those of you who don’t know, Balderdash is a game where you each make up an alternative definition of a word, a law, an acronym – things like that – with the aim of convincing the other players that yours is the correct one.

So, it was my turn to be the ‘dasher’, who’s the person that reads out the clue, and while everyone else was writing down their ideas I had a look at the other categories on the card. I looked at the acronym – B.H.G.A. I turned the card over the see what it was.

British Hang Gliding Association.



British HANG Gliding Association?? What on earth is HANG gliding?

‘Umm, guys?’ I said, slightly concerned. ‘Has hand gliding always been called hang gliding?’

Everyone looked at me.

‘What do you mean?’ said my Dad.

‘Well you know,’ I said, nervous now, ‘hand gliding, where you glide around whilst, er, using your hands?’

‘You mean hang gliding?’ said my Step-Mum.

I was SHOOK.

For nearly forty years I thought it was called hand gliding and there I was, my world SHATTERED.

I googled it to make sure, but Google didn’t even bother to TELL me I was wrong, it just showed me the right answer. I thought it might at least be like ‘did you mean hang gliding?’, but no. I pictured the Google robot rolling its eyes and thinking ‘she means hang gliding, she’s just being thick.’

Is there anyone else who has thought it was hand gliding all this time? Are there any other words of phrases that you got wrong for years before you realised? My sister thought for a long time that wing mirrors were called ‘wind mirrors’ – ‘because they get blown in the wind?’ she says. I guess mine is a similar thing.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has been foolish.

hang gliding

P.S. I have just been told that the person in this picture is actually paragliding, so apparently I can’t even get that right, damn it.

If you liked this post you might also like this rant about the hairdresser where everything is £11, this rant about the man online who called me a liar, or this one about car air fresheners.



  1. ElizM
    4 January, 2018 / 10:19 pm

    You’re not alone. Fine toothed comb? I always called it a fine toothcomb! (I know, it makes no sense but that’s how people say it!)

    • Jo Middleton
      4 January, 2018 / 11:34 pm

      A toothcomb isn’t a thing?? Well. That’s me AGAIN…

  2. Jo
    4 January, 2018 / 10:21 pm

    Omg I have also been calling it hand gliding for all these years too! I blame my parents, they must be where I got that from!? Theres a mountain close to us where you see them quite regularly and I’ve pointed them out to my kids – “look they’re hand gliding”. Or at least I thought they were, the sort of triangle shaped things? Well I’ve learnt something today lol

  3. 4 January, 2018 / 10:31 pm

    Hilarious! Reminds me of Miranda Hart book where she thought “feed the world” band aid song was “feed the birds”. I remember the school hymn we used to sing ” “i am the Lord of the dance, said he” and i thought the “said he” bit was “settee” as in sofa so i used to imagine jesus jumping around on a sofa or “dance settee”.

    • Jo Middleton
      4 January, 2018 / 11:36 pm

      Lots of the dance settee is a classic :-) The Guy I share my office with was convinced that ‘feed the world’ was ‘beaver world’

    • Anna Lancefield
      6 January, 2018 / 12:47 am

      Me too! Exactly this!!!

  4. Deborah MacKenzie
    4 January, 2018 / 11:07 pm

    Maybe it is one of those ‘mandela effects’!

  5. Inga Andersen
    4 January, 2018 / 11:50 pm

    My mum, God bless her, was always doing this type of thing. One of the funniest was when we were looking at the wild life on the mud flats, she always called them mud flaps :D

    • Jo Middleton
      5 January, 2018 / 1:53 pm

      Haha! Mud flaps is a cracker!

  6. 5 January, 2018 / 8:11 am

    I learnt the other day I’d been saying dissociation wrong. I’d been teaching my class about oxygen dissociation curves (yes they’re a thing!) and my class asked me
    If is spelt it right because it was ‘diss-association’. Turns out it’s just dissociation. Said that wrong for 34 years ‍♀️

    • Jo Middleton
      5 January, 2018 / 1:54 pm

      Well, if it makes you feel better, I would have got that wrong too, not that I ever have to think about it! I’ve thought of another one I got wrong until this year – edamame beans. I always ordered them as edame beans. So I bet I looked SUPER sophisticated…

  7. 5 January, 2018 / 8:37 am

    To be fair, until you set me right I thought it was hand gliding.. OK you hang but it’s all about arms, hands and ropes isn’t it…

    • Jo Middleton
      5 January, 2018 / 1:55 pm

      Exactly! Although I’ve never actually hang glided, so perhaps I was just assuming that because of what I thought was the name! I did chat to a hang glider a while ago who told me he sometimes worked and checked emails etc in the air and I do remember thinking at the time that didn’t he need his hands?…

  8. 5 January, 2018 / 10:58 am

    But it IS using your hands? You don’t hang off it…it’s definitely hand gliding. I’ve been saying it like that for over 30 years. I can’t believe no ones ever correct me before….not that I ever really talk about hand gliding…or hang gliding

    • Jo Middleton
      5 January, 2018 / 1:52 pm

      Shall we just agree that WE are right and the rest of the world is wrong? I feel that could be an option. :-D

      • 12 March, 2018 / 11:22 pm

        The rest of the world is wrong! It is sooo HAND gliding :-)

  9. 5 January, 2018 / 12:13 pm

    There’s a line in a song which goes “My lover’s got no money, he’s got his strong beliefs”… When I was in college, a class mate thought it was “My lover’s got no money, he’s got his trampoline” until I cracked up laughing!

    • Jo Middleton
      5 January, 2018 / 1:56 pm

      Well if you HAVE a trampoline then who cares about your bank balance? :-D

      • 5 January, 2018 / 2:18 pm

        Yeah, a trampoline is much more fun! :D

        • Sarah
          10 January, 2018 / 3:02 pm

          So I guess his cheque bounced?

      • Peter
        21 January, 2018 / 11:06 am

        If you have a trampoline but no money you could always bounce cheques?

  10. Lauren
    5 January, 2018 / 1:48 pm

    My housemate thinks a bauble is a “ball ball” and I don’t have the heart to tell her the truth.

    • Jo Middleton
      5 January, 2018 / 1:51 pm

      Oh! That’s so sweet! Never tell her :-)

  11. 5 January, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    If it makes you feel better, I spent years thinking we drive on jewel carriageways :D

    • Jo Middleton
      6 January, 2018 / 6:06 pm

      Oh! I wish we did, they sound pretty :-)

    • Ellie
      12 January, 2018 / 12:36 am

      Me too!!!!! Jewelled carriageways, like a road for carriages that would go to the ball in a fairy tale.

  12. 5 January, 2018 / 11:53 pm

    Years ago there was a song by a band or individual called ‘The Bouncer’. It pretty much only had one line: if your name’s not down, your not coming in.’ Except my husband thought it was ‘if you’re name’s not Daniel…’. I can’t help thinking that would be a pretty empty night club…

  13. 6 January, 2018 / 12:29 am

    Well I thought it was hand gliding too….lol You learn something new every day x

  14. Jackie Boyer
    7 January, 2018 / 4:48 pm

    I keep seeing adverts on eBay and Facebook for Chester Draws. It makes me chuckle every time but I suppose that’s what it sounds like and if you’ve never seen it written down how would you know it’s a chest of drawers?

  15. 9 January, 2018 / 3:59 pm

    Hang gliding!!!! What the flip! So where do the hands come in?
    Thank you for educating this 44 year old mummy.
    If I sign up, do you do a word of the day?

    • Jo Middleton
      10 January, 2018 / 3:01 pm

      I’m not sure I could come up with a different words every day, but I could probably manage something more generic – stupid mistake I made today’ – something like that? :-D

  16. 11 January, 2018 / 10:47 am

    Shit me!! I’ve been calling it handgliding too!! Thanks for pointing out and taking one for the team on that!

  17. Shannon
    8 December, 2023 / 7:22 pm

    I’m very late to this party but I found you because I was chatting with my students (I’m a high school teacher) and I mentioned hand gliding and they all looked at me like I was nuts. I, in turn, told them THEY were wrong and we looked it up together so I could prove them wrong….FORTY FIVE YEARS I’ve been saying it wrong.

    • Jo Middleton
      10 December, 2023 / 10:32 pm

      Hahah! I love this! Sorry you were wrong though, that must have been annoying!

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