Is there any difference in usage between the idioms "through the ringer" and "through the wringer"? As I have found out they are pretty similar (for example here and here) but I have no idea when to use one instead of the other.

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    Use “through the ringer” when you want to portray yourself as someone who doesn’t know that it should be “through the wringer”
    – Jim
    Jun 10, 2017 at 18:55
  • Yes, there is an ifference. One has the initial letter of a word omitted and the other doesn't.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 10, 2017 at 19:07
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    My girlfriend called. I talked to her through the ringer. Jun 10, 2017 at 19:12
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    Wringer is correct. Ringer doesn't make sense unless you're Neo from the Matrix. He literally went through the ringer (phone).
    – iMerchant
    Jun 10, 2017 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


The underlying image is of clothes being dried out by being squeezed through a mangle (or wringer). The correct form is thus "put through the wringer", with "ringer" only appearing when the the phrase heard, but the wrong word is written down. RINGER and WRINGER are homophones (they sound exactly alike) but mean different things.

  • Actually, I'm sure there's some group of people somewhere who pronounce the words differently.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 10, 2017 at 19:25
  • @Hot Licks While they might be pronounced differently in different areas or in different dialects, I suspect they'd remain as homophones. The "w" in "wringer" simply isn't pronounced in Standard English. It derives from Old English wringan, to squeeze. The spelling of "wringer" retained the "w", even when it was no longer pronounced. Cf wrong, wrung/rung (quite different words), etc. Jun 10, 2017 at 19:45
  • Further ... "ring" ( as in "ring a bell") derives from Old English hringan, to ring. There, the "h" sound had dropped out before spelling (sort of) stabilized, so it's not present in the current spelling of the word. Jun 10, 2017 at 19:54
  • The correct procedure here is to close-vote, not endorse with an 'answer'. Jun 10, 2017 at 20:08
  • @Edwin Ashworth Um ... I think Hot Licks raised a plausible possibility, even if it is (in my view) wrong. "close-vote" (I'll have to look that up) would, presumably, simply abolish the original observation. Or am I wrong in this? Still learning the site conventions ... Jun 10, 2017 at 20:23

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