wrong end of the stick, (got hold of) the

the wrong end of the stick

A misunderstanding, miscommunication, or distortion of the facts. He must have gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick about something when I was talking to him earlier, because he has started acting really odd whenever I see him now. The senator found herself at the wrong end of the stick after mistakenly saying during an interview that she would like to see funding for public education cut in half.
See also: end, of, stick, wrong

wrong end of the stick, (got hold of) the

Mistaken, misunderstood; a distorted version of the facts. This expression, which some believe refers to a walking stick held the wrong way, presumably means that one cannot proceed very far, either literally or figuratively, if one does not hold onto the right end. Another theory is that it alludes to a stick kept in an outhouse, and grabbing the wrong end in the dark meant one got feces on one’s hands. Whatever the precise origin, it began life in the fourteenth century as the worse end of the staff, a wording that survived into the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century the current wording was adopted. Shaw was fond of it, using both wrong and right end of the stick in a number of plays (Misalliance, 1910; Androcles and the Lion, 1912; Saint Joan, 1924). See also short end of the stick.
See also: end, hold, of, wrong