Browse Definitions :

Nip it in the butt or in the bud?

Writing for Business

Which is correct?

At the C-level management meeting, the CEO said that he knew there was a rumor starting to circulate about positions being outsourced offshore and he wanted to nip it in the ____.
a. butt
b. bud


Answer: b.

Explanation:
You can imagine a use for “nip it in the butt” — you could deter someone that way but it doesn’t seem like office-appropriate behavior.

The actual saying is “nip it in the bud.” The meaning is to take care of a problem in its early stages before it gets too big to manage easily.

Here’s Paul Brians on the question:

“To nip a process in the bud is to stop it from flowering completely. The hilariously mistaken ‘nip it in the butt’ suggests stimulation to action rather than stopping it.”

It’s surprising how often “nip it in the butt” appears, especially online. I think this is yet another case of people mishearing something and not seeing it in print (because they don’t read enough, I’m thinking).

There are lots of examples of misuse, even within the media, especially the sports media (just saying):

From USA Today:

“These were two crucial points for us,” said Bailey, who has four goals and nine points during a six-game point streak. “If you don’t get them, they’ll nip you in the butt at the end of the year.”

From Scout.com:

 but I realized that if something starts to not feel good you’ve got to nip it in the butt quickly and not just keep going and get into a bigger problem 

From the Turf Show Times:

“Hopefully both sides will realize they caused this mess by letting people who are litigation experts lead negotiations, and next time, when this happens again, they’ll nip it in the butt before it causes a problem.”

From NJ.com:

“If the people around you are negative thinkers, it’s like having wolves at the door. It becomes an emotionally contagious atmosphere. Managers have to nip it in the butt. Once a company is in freefall, it’s too late.”

Then, again, the expression is occasionally used to good effect, whether or not the writer knows the correct expression:

From the Philadelphia Enquirer:

“Something dangerous is going on in the world of women’s underwear, and I want to nip it in the butt. Sorry. I am referring, of course, to Spanx. If you don’t know what Spanx are, I have one word for you: Girdles.”

So there you have it. If you want to use “nip it in the butt” for a bit of wordplay, I have no quarrel with you. But if you’re just writing about stopping a small problem before it gets out of hand, save your dental work — the correct expression is “nip it in the bud.”

Dig Deeper on Writing for Business

Networking
  • firewall as a service (FWaaS)

    Firewall as a service (FWaaS), also known as a cloud firewall, is a service that provides cloud-based network traffic analysis ...

  • private 5G

    Private 5G is a wireless network technology that delivers 5G cellular connectivity for private network use cases.

  • NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure)

    NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure) encompasses all of the networking hardware and software needed to support ...

Security
  • computer forensics (cyber forensics)

    Computer forensics is the application of investigation and analysis techniques to gather and preserve evidence from a particular ...

  • cybersecurity

    Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting internet-connected systems such as hardware, software and data from cyberthreats.

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a symmetric block cipher chosen by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

CIO
HRSoftware
  • OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

    OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) encourage companies to set, communicate and monitor organizational goals and results in an ...

  • cognitive diversity

    Cognitive diversity is the inclusion of people who have different styles of problem-solving and can offer unique perspectives ...

  • reference checking software

    Reference checking software is programming that automates the process of contacting and questioning the references of job ...

Customer Experience
  • martech (marketing technology)

    Martech (marketing technology) refers to the integration of software tools, platforms, and applications designed to streamline ...

  • transactional marketing

    Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, point-of-sale transactions.

  • customer profiling

    Customer profiling is the detailed and systematic process of constructing a clear portrait of a company's ideal customer by ...

Close