nip (phrase) in the bud

Discussion in 'English Only' started by JBPARK, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. JBPARK Senior Member

    Dear All,

    I could be wrong but it's my understanding that the expression "nip it in the bud" is a set phrase used mostly as it is without the modification of its form. And I was wondering if there is some leeway to develop the phrase a little further as I see fit, adding more specificity, if you will, to the "it" part by spelling out what that "it" actually is. For example, is it OK to make a construction that goes something like "With this top of the line Ace detector, you can nip your chances of getting robbed again right in the bud"?

    I would very much appreciate your comments.
  2. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    Yep, Park-o-Matic. :) You can nip "--phrase--" in the bud, in my book. Your sentence passes the P-test.
  3. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I don't think it is unusual to replace it with something more specific, eg​ 'they nipped his ambition in the bud'. Having said that, I think your example is a little strange-sounding. That is because what is being nipped is usually some kind of bad habit or something undesirable (at least, to other people). 'Chance of getting robbed' does not quite fit into that scheme.

    Cross-posted. Very slow! :(
  4. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    I think can nip anything, whether positive or negative, in the bud. It's my humble opinion.
  5. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    It literally means to stop something before it starts or stop it while it is small before it grows larger. I don't see that as applicable to "your chances of being robbed again". You don't stop "chances" and the chances of your being robbed is not something that would seem to be growing larger.
    You can't literally nip a full-blown rose in the bud because it's already past that stage. You've already been robbed once.
    It doesn't have to be negative, but why would you stop a positive thing in such a cruel fashion. ;)
    In this particular case, you would want to emphasize that your chances of being robbed are already quite large - you really need this detector now.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  6. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I always said, "nip at the bud". A quick Google search shows about 6,500,000 for either "at" or "in". But for me "at" is more logical. You can't nip in something, you can nip near or at something. But whatever...
  7. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think I've only heard in the bud. I've always understood in the bud to mean in the budding stage, so it's a reference to time or period, rather than to location. Google ngrams turns up a much lower figure for at the bud in contrast to in the bud​.
  8. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    I've never heard "at the bud."

    I don't use the phrase much myself, because I associate it with the character Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show, who (as I recall) spent the better part of an entire episode saying "Nip it! Nip it in the bud!" and no one wants to sound like Barney Fife.

    (When I was a kid, I thought it was "nip it in the butt." :D)
  9. gramman

    gramman Senior Member

    I looked around and terms linked to pain, illness, and crime (all negative) were most often nipped in the bud. I agree that you would be unlikely to want to nip a good thing in the bud.

    If someone else hadn't mentioned Deputy Fife, I would have! :)
  10. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    Well, here goes nothing. "Your chances of being robbed" can grown larger, if you don't get this product, so nip those chances in the bud, right now. In fact, your chances of getting robbed can grow exponentially. It makes sense to me. I may be missing something.

    Whatever marketing ploy may be best is a different issue. I just don't have any problems with "nip it in the bud" the way JBPARK used it.

    @pob14. :). That reminds me of being nipped in the butt. Ouch.
  11. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I personally would not use a long phrase ending in a verb, between nip and in.

    (We will soon be getting questions on what does this mean "getting robbed again right in the bud"?" :eek:)

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