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I've heard people using this idiom, such as "each day is better than the next", or "you hope that each experience you have is better than the next" (heard this one on a TV show not long ago), apparently in a positive way.

However, if taken literally, I find the meaning very negative - if the current thing is better than the next, then the next thing must be worse, so things would just keep getting worse and worse. How do you explain this phrase/idiom?

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Heh fascinating! How bizarre. –  Joe Blow May 12 at 6:33
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This seems to fit right in with the (AmE?) usage of "I could care less", which is usually meant to mean the exact opposite of what is said :) –  oerkelens May 12 at 10:40

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You're absolutely right.

A quick google suggests that this is a commonly misquoted phrase.

The phrase should be 'Each day is better than the last'.

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It might well have arisen as a conflation of

'each day [etc] is better than the last'

with

[I'm] no better than the next man'.

I'm enough of a prescriptivist to be glad that the previous two answers label it as a 'misuse'.

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As noted, it apparently is a misuse of a sentence, especially in Am E, though, as Ngram. shows, I'd like to point out that the correct sentence better than the last has been gaining more popularity versus better than the next in the last decades.

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