What happens when a phrase references old technology? It becomes a prime candidate for being misspelled. I thought of this when spotting “put us through the ringer” in my local newspaper. The word should be spelled “wringer,” as in the old wringer washing machines that pressed laundry through rollers to squeeze out the water.

Maytag shows an evolution of wringer washers that goes back to 1907. They were apparently sold until the early 1950s, although another online source says “the last wringer washer manufactured in the United States was made in June of 1990.”

I’m old enough to dimly remember that we had one of these relics. In fact, my brother pestered my mother to let him put some clothes through the wringer, and although she reminded him several times that he had to let go of the clothes, of course he didn’t. Putting his arm through the wringer bruised it, giving us all a good understanding that the phrase “put through the wringer” means to give someone a difficult time.