Barking up the wrong tree

Barking up the wrong tree

This YouTube video (see below) is hysterical and reminds me of the English idiom: Barking up the wrong tree.

Take a look and see if you can understand the meaning of the expression. The photo above should also give you a good hint. You’ll find the definition below.

Does it is make sense now?

Barking up the wrong tree is an English idiomatic expression. The picture above is also a good visual explanation of the expression. The dog is barking up one tree but the cat has escaped to another one.

We use the expression “barking up the wrong tree” as a metaphor to describe when someone is trying to achieve something but they’re doing it in the wrong way (or they are trying to get something but they will not be successful).

Now it’s your turn.

Your English will improve much faster with practice! So don’t just sit there. Think of an example and flex your courage muscles by typing your example in the comment box below.


25 thoughts on “Barking up the wrong tree

  1. Me

    I understand the meaning but I can’t think of a example. My brother wants money from me but he’s barking up the wrong tree? Is that correct?

    1. Maviskye

      Yes, it’s correct! But there has to be some extra meaning in the sentence. The idea is that your brother wants money from you but he’s not going to get it from you. He needs to get it from someone else.
      For example, maybe you have a job and usually have money but you are waiting for your next paycheck and don’t have any right now… but your sister (who doesn’t have a job and usually doesn’t have any money) just found $20 in her coat pocket.
      Your brother is barking up the wrong tree because you don’t have any money, but your sister does. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Stefanie

    I asked for a raise but I was barking up the wrong tree. Only the director was powerful to take that decision.
    Also the dog is very nice and funny, he wanted to play.

  3. reylen

    i ‘m makes coffee and i thought i’d put a sugar on it but when i drink it, it tasted salty then i realized that i’d put a salt not sugar, i’m barking up the wrong tree.

    is this correct i’m trying to be good in English.

    1. Nicole Post author

      Hi there,

      Very nice try but it’s not quite right. Idioms are a bit tricky. Here’s a similar example that would work:

      I went to a coffee stand and I said “I want some tea.” The woman at the counter replied, ” Sorry, we only sell coffee.” I said, “Okay, then I’ll have a beer instead” and then she got angry and said I was barking up the wrong tree.

      In this example, the barista said the customer was barking up the wrong tree because the customer should order tea or beer from a place that sells it (e.g., café, bar or restaurant).

      Another example:

      I came to this website to learn Japanese but there are only English lessons here. I guess I’m barking up the wrong tree.


      I’m so glad that you took the time to try to practice. I know if you keep trying like this you will become a very good English speaker with some time.

      Best wishes,


  4. Nicole Post author

    Hi there. It’s not correct but excellent job for trying. I think it’s probably easiest for learners to try to think of trying to obtain something from someone (who doesn’t have what the person is looking for).

    For example:
    The student tried to get an A grade by being really nice to his professor but he was barking up the wrong tree because the exams were being graded by the someone else.

  5. Simon

    I am a graduate of education , but I’m applying for IT jobs to be successful. I’m barking on the wrong tree.

    Is this sentence correct?

    1. Nicole Post author

      If you’ve graduated with a degree in education and are applying for IT jobs, yes, you could be barking up the wrong tree.

      However, these days if you have the skills, motivation and experience, anything is possible! Best wishes, Nicole

  6. Gofur

    I forced my salesteam to sell premium product in a traditional market, im barking up the wrong tree, because we are aiming middle up class or market so better to find another potential place to explore

  7. ALI

    i wanna make a perfect body but im barking the wrong tree , i don’t do exercise and have supplement enough to build

    is that correct ?

  8. luis Perdomo

    After I have seen this video, I have realized that I myself have been doing that for a long, long time: I have been looking for English information where it is impossible to get it.

  9. Gloria

    The man is pulling the door all the time. I think he is barking up the wrong tree. Because it said push on the door.


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