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Idioms

bark up the wrong tree

This page is about the idiom bark up the wrong tree

INFORMAL

Meaning

If you're barking up the wrong tree, you're looking for something in the wrong place or going about something in the wrong way.

For example

  • The police think the drugs are being brought in by the mafia, but they're barking up the wrong tree. They should be looking much closer to home.

  • She's barking up the wrong tree if she's interested in Gavin. Doesn't she know he's gay?

Origin: Metaphorical, from the image of a dog barking up a tree in which it thinks another animal has taken refuge in order to escape it.

Quick Quiz

The police think the murderer is hiding in the forest, but they're barking up the wrong tree. He is

a. in a different tree

b. in a different forest

c. not in a forest

Idiom of the Day

Contributor: Matt Errey