First time poster to this forum.

I've recently started to notice a lot of people using the phrase "step foot" as a replacement for "set foot", eg.

I wouldn't step foot in that restaurant

I find this a bit jarring, and it seems like an incorrect use of the phrase "set foot" that has recently entered the zeitgeist. Am I out of touch or mistaken here? Is there a way of tracking usage of this new version of the phrase?

  • Maybe a new eggcorn? – Mitch Jul 18 '18 at 2:58
  • I wasn't familiar with that Term @mitch thanks for introducing me to it! – Tom Jul 18 '18 at 3:09
  • It looks like step foot in started appearing in print around 2000. I have no idea if it's had increased usage since 2008. Nor how common it is in speech. – Jason Bassford Jul 18 '18 at 3:20
  • if so, the interesting thing is that the misheard phrase still parses okay as a statement, which I imagine is fairly rare for eggcorns – Tom Jul 18 '18 at 3:32
  • 1
    Straight from the gecko this sounded like an eggcorn to me. People might be using Americans as escape goats for this, but these mishearings are becoming as common as a bowl in a china shop! (My thanks to Dave Gorman's Modern Life is Goodish for providing the material used in this comment.) – AndyT Jul 18 '18 at 10:07

Your assumption appears to be suggested also here:

Apparently a blending of step with set foot, perhaps by confusion.

(chiefly US) Alternative form of set foot:

An early usage is from the the beginning of the 19th century:

1813, Washington Irving, “Sketches of an Excursion from Edinburgh to Dublin”, in The Analectic magazine, page 480:

  • This was a pleasure of no small kind; and in stepping foot again upon the soil of that country, which contains much that I prize, and more that I admire.


And also the in the following extract the Washington State University confirms that step foot is a misusage of set foot:

step foot:

  • When you want to say that you refuse to enter some location, the traditional expression is not “step foot,” but “set foot”: “I refuse to set foot in my brother-in-law’s house while he lets his vicious pit bull run around inside.”
  • I've cited that and a couple others too in my comment above. – Kris Jul 18 '18 at 6:37
  • @Kris - I see that now. You should probably turn your comment into an answer. As you know comments are not answers. – user240918 Jul 18 '18 at 6:45
  • I've voted to close because the question is GR. – Kris Jul 18 '18 at 6:48
  • @Kris - I don’t think it is. – user240918 Jul 18 '18 at 6:55

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