Is there a word or succinct phrase for debates or arguments that started as a result of miscommunication or misinterpretation?


A common phrase to sum up such a situation would be:

'To get your wires crossed'

A suitable idiom for a misunderstanding especially based off communication. The origins is from telephone comms when people used to hear other phone conversations back in the early/mid 1900s.

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Just to get the ball rolling,


"The whole yelling match with my husband was groundless - he actually said my new hairdo makes me like bold. Imagine!"

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Some of this idea is conveyed with "talking past each other". But that phrase doesn't emphasize the argument so much as the ongoing disjuncture. Your question suggests a premise was misconstrued moreso than an ongoing confusion over the matter at hand.

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  • While this is true, it is more of a comment on an existing answer than an answer in its own right. – Chenmunka Feb 17 '16 at 15:58

From Wikipedia: talking past each other.

Talking past each other is an English phrase meaning two or more people talking about different subjects, while they believe that they are talking about the same thing.

The erroneous belief that they are "talking about the same thing" counts as miscommunication or misinterpretation that can easily lead to debates or arguments.

The phrase talking past each other refers to the debate or argument.

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