zig

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(one) zigged when (one) should have zagged

1. One moved in a particular direction but should have moved in a different direction in order to avoid some obstacle or impediment. A reference to moving from side to side in a zigzag pattern. A: "The running back had the chance to break away for a touchdown, but he was brought down by the other team's linebacker in a bone-crunching tackle." B: "Yep, looks like he zigged when he should have zagged." I nearly beat the final boss of the game, but I zigged when I should have zagged at the very last moment and he ended up killing me.
2. By extension, one acted in a way that resulted in a worse outcome than if they had done something different. Everyone assumed that it was an open-and-shut case, but the prosecution's controversial decision not to question the company's CEO is leaving many wondering if they zigged when they should have zagged. He really should have won the election, but he zigged when he should have zagged by focusing so much of his campaign on taxes instead of attacking his opponent's political policies.
See also: have, should, zag, zig

zig when (one) should zag

1. To move in a particular direction when one should move in a different direction in order to avoid some obstacle or impediment. A reference to moving from side to side in a zigzag pattern. Oof, the running back just got walloped by the linebacker. He zigged when he should have zagged! Be careful trying to beat the final boss—if you zig when you should zag, you'll fall off the platform and die.
2. By extension, to act in a way that results in a worse outcome than if one had done something different. Their CEO tends to zig when he should zag, making inflammatory comments rather than taking responsibility for the company's wrongdoing. You need to attack your opponent's political policies, not keep focusing so much on taxes—you're zigging when you should be zagging!
See also: should, zag, zig
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

zigged when one should've zagged

perfomed one deed when another deed would have been better; to do something inconsequentially different from another thing. I don't know why she complained. I guess I zigged when I should have zagged.
See also: one, zag, zig
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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