Don't Decide Off Your Own Bat To Use Back Instead

If you do something off your own bat, you don't require assistance. If you use the incorrect phrase "off your own back", you definitely need help.

Picture: Getty Images/ Robert Cianflone

The Macquarie Dictionary defines "off one's own bat" as meaning "independently; without prompting or assistance". It also notes how the term came about:

from cricket, with reference to a score made off the bat, as opposed to byes, wides, etc.

Writing "off your own back" is thus incorrect (and confusing). It's a common enough mistake that it's possible that at some point in the future this phrase will become the standard version. But given cricket's ongoing popularity, I won't be holding my breath. In the meantime, be sure to use "bat", not "back", when you deploy this phrase. Accuracy matters.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


Comments

    I cannot recall one instance of anyone ever using back instead of bat.

    Maybe a few people confused that saying with "the shirt off your back" saying, i cant imagine the wrong version being so popular.

    Thank you Lifehacker, I can now rest easier at night. I don't know how many restless nights i've had wondering whether its "bat" or "back". Thank you.

    But isn't "off my own back" a different phrase to "off my own bat"?

    "Off my own bat" is about using your own initiative.

    "Off my own back" is similar to "sweat of the brow" or doing the work yourself. Like not laying down i.e. off your back/off your backside.

    Or "off my own back" could also be another term, like if you are on someone's back, you are hassling them. You can stop hassling yourself, by "getting off my own back" ?

    I think you're kinda clutching at straws on this one. I haven't heard anyone confuse "bat" with "back" in this context.

      Matt Baker just did, on the one show!

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