Barking up the wrong tree

Patricia Hinsen-Rind
28. Juli 2022
Barking up the wrong tree

Is an interesting English idiom.

Let’s start by looking at the word “bark”.

🌳Bark can mean the outside of a tree, more specifically, the tough, brown, material that covers trees.

🌳Bark is also the sound that a dog makes.

🌳”Barking up the wrong tree” however, does not refer to the rough, brown, tree covering, it refers to the fact that dogs like to chase some animals, among them squirrels.

When a dog chases a squirrel, the squirrel usually escapes the dog by running up a tree. Often the dog will then continue to bark at the squirrel, which is sitting safely far up in the tree.

🌳Sometimes however, the squirrel runs from one tree to another and is long gone, while the dog continues to bark, thinking that the squirrel is still there.

🌳This is where “barking up the wrong tree” comes from. It means to have the wrong idea about how to get or achieve something.

🌳For example: “If you think he’ll help you, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

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