Set foot in vs. step foot in [closed]

Currently, in everyday language, I hear people use the expression: ‘step foot in’, rather than the expression: ‘set foot in’. The former expression sounds incorrect while the latter expression sounds correct. Can anyone comment on this?

Answer

I don’t know who you’re talking to, but historically set foot in is represented in the corpus vastly more than step foot in is. See this Google NGram for a comparison.

enter image description here

Still, what you may be witnessing is an eggcorn, a mishearing by someone that has been propagated by others, in this case your peers. Here’s an NGram that compares two terms: home in on, which is an expression originating in the 19th century use of homing pigeons, resurrected in WWII to describe guided weapons technology; and hone in on, an eggcorn that has taken on a life of its own, and is now even included in dictionaries (some even argue that the eggcorn is an improvement).

enter image description here

You could argue that step foot in is an improvement on set foot in, one that sets it closer to the mark, since stepping is what feet do; or you might suppose that step foot in is actually an alteration in meaning from that phrase: to step foot in something adds a wry twist to the process, reminiscent of someone stepping into, say, a manure pile.

In this respect it could be similar to saying

“We’ll fall off that bridge when we come to it”

eliciting a laugh when the listener expects you to say

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

So step foot in might be said to get a laugh. Either way, if you’re hearing that more and more, it may be the process described above. You might ask the people you hear it from to tell you whether they mean you to take it ironically or at face value.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : morgan falk , Answer Author : Robusto

Leave a Comment