1) Is it correct to say 'by foot' instead of 'on foot'?
2) What's the proverb which says something like 'to wake up on the wrong foot' and means that you started the day unsuccessfully.
3) Every idiom is a proverb but NOT vice versa. Is this correct?
Because I understand 'idiom' as a preverb whose meaning cannot be derived straightforwardly from the meaning of its words.
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Hello Mav

1) 'By foot' puts emphasis on the mode of transport: cf. 'by bus', 'by train'.

So 'Sightseeing by foot!' would draw attention to the fact that you were deliberately choosing to use your feet.

'On foot', on the other hand, would be used if you wanted to contrast modes of transport within a particular journey:

'I went part of the way on foot, then caught the train.'

2) Perhaps 'the day got off to a bad start'; 'it started off on the wrong foot'; it got off on the wrong foot'.

There's also a phrase 'I got out of bed on the wrong side this morning'; but I take that to mean 'I have been ill-at-ease and cross so far today'.

3) A proverb is an excrescence. An idiom is a groove.

Thanks, MrP, 'I got out of bed on the wrong side this morning' is what I meant.
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Hello Mav (and MrP)

Please allow me to make an unnecessary addition.

In old days, there was no bus, no car, no bike, no plane. What usual people could use to go somewhere was their feet or horses. When they used a horse as the transportation means, they said 'ride on horseback'. As a parallelism of 'ride on horseback', they said 'go on foot' when they walked. It is my understanding about how come the phrase 'go on foot' came into English.

English people sometimes use 'foot' in the sense of 'a standing ground' or 'a basis something stands on' ['footing' is a word to mean the basis which a building stands on]. My guess is that the phrase "start/get (off) on the wrong foot" began to be used to mean "start/get (off) on the wrong basis"

Hello Paco

That's an interesting thought. I wonder in that case if 'by foot' came into English as a parallelism of 'go by car', 'go by train', etc.

If so, it would be a pleasingly symmetrical situation.

For 'the space a building stands on', you often hear 'footprint' these days. In fact, anything that stands can have a footprint: a desk, a cupboard, a mobile home.

(I'm surprised 'footprint' isn't used for 'the space on your hard drive a particular piece of software requires'.)

Hello MrP

Do you mean OED by 'a particular piece of softeware'? That is quite pretty. Less than 2 MB I suppose.

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I was thinking it could be used of any piece of software:

150 MB of available hard-disk space; optional installation files cache (recommended) requires an additional 200 MB of available hard-disk space


Although I'm an engineer, I don't know much about computers. I have changed my computer for a new one almost every year but I cannot set up them without my daughter's help. Sad.

Anyway I think nowadays it would be reasonable to assume that 'wake up on the wrong footprint' is a real etymon of 'wake up on the wrong foot'.

In the U.S. we say it a little differently: "I got up on the wrong side of the bed today." Emotion: smile
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