"to bark up the wrong tree"
to completely misunderstand a situation;
to make a false assumption about a situation
Young Aaron's birthday is coming up soon. He will turn five years old on his birthday. Aaron's parents have been keeping Aaron's birthday present as a surprise but Aaron really wants to know what his present will be. As a result, Aaron is asking his mother all kinds of unusual questions to try to discover what his gift is. Aaron asks if his mother or father have gone shopping anywhere different. Aaron asks if his present is larger than a loaf of bread. He asks if his gift is hidden in the house. Aaron asks many questions. Finally, Aaron's mother says ...
"Young man, if you think that I will tell you what your present is, you are very mistaken. You are barking up the wrong tree!"
The government has decided that it will make recycling mandatory. It will give fines for people who do not follow the recycling laws. The government believes that this new consumer recycling law is the best solution to help the environment. A group of two hundred people have gathered at the government house to protest this new regulation. The people say that it is not consumers that can make the biggest impact on saving the environment but that it is big industry that could really make a difference.
The people believe that the government is barking up the wrong tree and that it should target big industry instead.
Barking up the wrong tree can be a good way to learn what the answer is not.
1) I bark up the wrong tree when I am mistaken.
2) You bark up the wrong tree when you are determined you know the solution.
3) He barks up the wrong tree when he is given false information.
4) She barks up the wrong tree when she asks her boss for a raise.
5) The government is barking up the wrong tree when it thinks that posting more speed limit signs will control people driving faster than the speed limit.
6) We bark up the wrong tree when we pursue an investigation that is in error.
7) You (all) bark up the wrong tree when you (all) think someone will help that will not.
8) They bark up the wrong tree when they ask their friends for money.
9) Perhaps we've all been barking up the wrong tree, thinking the next Surface device from Microsoft would be great.
10) I sort of wonder if you are barking up the wrong tree emphasizing silicon valley and tech entrepreneurs so much.
11) That is just not the case, so you are barking up the wrong tree looking for a "proof" where one doesn't exist.
12) I just can't believe that the media is totally lost and barking up the wrong tree like something is there.
13) Such progressives are barking up the wrong tree. Ultimately such confusion obscures our message.
14) It's hard to fathom how many collective hours of "barking up the wrong tree" you and your team have saved the entrepreneurial community.
15) I'd want to know the truth so I did not waste energy barking up the wrong tree in a fantasy.
16) I'm afraid you are barking up the wrong tree. The Samsung 32 has an outstanding picture.
17) Best solution to all problems. Don't bark up the wrong tree, just stick with the plain truth and all is well.
18) A high street bank barked up the wrong tree when it hounded one of its customers for an unpaid debt.
19) All that seems likely at this point is that Shawyer's theory paper either barks up the wrong tree or is complete waffle.
20) I don't want them barking up the wrong tree for twenty years.