Barking up the wrong end of the stick

Barking up the wrong tree

The phrase barking up the wrong tree means “making a mistake or a false assumption in something you are trying to achieve”. It comes from hunting dogs barking up trees where they thought their quarry was hiding, but wasn’t [source].

Apparently one French equivalent of this phrase is Frapper à la mauvaise porte (to knock at the wrong door). Does anybody know the origins of this expression?

Another French equivalent is se mettre le doigt dans l’œil (to put your finger in your eye).

To get the wrong end of the stick means to misunderstand something. I combined the two phrases in the title of this post because I like playing with words.

One equivalent in French is comprendre de travers (to understand in a crooked, askew or wrong way) [source], se tromper (to make a mistake) or faire fausse route (to go the wrong way; be on the wrong track), which can also mean ‘to bark up the wrong tree’ [source].

Are there equivalents of these phrases in other languages?

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One thought on “Barking up the wrong end of the stick

  1. The opposite is also very commonly used in French “frapper a la bonne porte”- to find the place you’re looking for etc.

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