All my life I've heard the phrase "chewed him down" and though nothing of it. For example, someone might say "Yeah, he wanted $50 for the used lawnmower, but I chewed him down to $35". It always carried overtones of gnawing away at the price, bringing it down bit by bit.
Today, I was shocked to learn that the more common version of the phrase is"jewed him down", alluding to the old-fashioned and bigotted notion that Jews are greedy and tight with money. And, it turns out, it's almost impossible to tell which version a person is saying. Whichever version you grew up with is likely the version you hear, regardless of what the speaker intends.
Well, shit. Not wanting to be perceived as a person who might use those sorts of phrases (like the neighbor kid did when I was younger), I guess I'll give it up. I'm sure I do, since the phrase "chewing him down" is so evocative for me. Maybe I can transition to "gnawed him down". Damn, damn, damn. This is more irritating than when I learned that gyp ("Aw, man, what a gyp.") was intended as a slur against gypsies (aka Romany); "Gee" was actually "G", short for God; and that a scumbag was really a used condom. Why do all of the flavorful phrases have secret poison in them?