Archive for Eggcorns


Ryan Broderick,"People Are Actually Writing The Word 'Firstable' Online Instead Of 'First Of All': What has the internet done to our brains?".  In response, Ben Zimmer entered firstable in the Eggcorn Database, noting uses back to 1996:

  • Firstable, the term “indian” and christianity were imposed in Peru through blood and fire by European conquerors.(Marxism mailing list, Jan. 28, 1996)
  • Here is an essay written as part of the admissions procedure for our University Honors Program… “Firstable, to stay away from the reality of those traps that people are facing, I would be felt some classes if I weren’t focus.” (HAPP mailing list, Oct. 26, 2000)
  • I have many ways to explorate but firstable, I would like to work on relations between the “recall” of roman empire and colonial theories / words / language. (H-West-Africa mailing list, Mar. 3, 2002)
  • Well firstable thanks so much to you and to Wuwei Liang because it is a very helpful tool. (VMD mailing list, Nov. 8, 2005)
  • Well, firstable, it was very boring. (Freshman Seminar @ Baruch College, Dec. 3, 2009)
  • Firstable you have to know that the room and bathroom were very dirty and unhealthy. (TripAdvisor, Jan. 8, 2013)
  • Firstable, you’re asked to pay your room in advance. (TripAdvisor, Oct. 3, 2013)

The fact that examples go back at least to 1996 suggests that the internet is not really the culprit.

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Grater, grader, whatever

Dan Hanzus, "Gruden on DJax: 'He wants to block, he just is little'", Around the NFL 10/16/2014:

The Washington Redskins did not sign DeSean Jackson to be a road-grater.

The 5-foot-10, 178-pound wide receiver gets paid to make big plays, not clear the way for them. But that didn't stop several D.C.-area media members from calling Jackson out for his apparent lack of effort in blocking situations during Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Perhaps the loudest voice came from former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who offered up a stinging critique of Jackson's game after some film study.

"Do not allow number 11 to ever be involved in blocking for screens, blocking for bubbles, picking for players in the pass game, (or) run plays to his side of the line of scrimmage," Cooley said, via the DC Sports Bog. "He WILL NOT TRY on them. Do not put him in those situations."

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Fairy Ann

David Shariatmadari, "That eggcorn moment: If you’ve been signalled out by friends for saying ‘when all is set and done’, you’re not alone – linguists even have a word for it", The Guardian 9/16/2014:

Learning your mother tongue might seem effortless, but doesn’t always go without a hitch. In particular, you may hear certain sets of words and break them down wrongly in your head. So long as your version is plausible, sounds the same, and you’re not asked to write it down, the error can persist for years. I was in sixth form when I realised my version of “as opposed to” wasn’t widely shared. I thought it was “as a pose to”, which in my head implied some kind of challenge to an existing idea, like posing a question.

Confirming the general public's fascination with linguistics, there are 1108 comments so far.

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Spit(ting| and) images

Bob Moore was taken aback by "spit and image" in Frank Bruni's 9/9/2014 NYT Op-Ed, and wondered whether it was an eggcorn for "spitting image":

I worry about the combustible tension between our abysmal regard for the Congress that we’ve got and a near certainty that the Congress we’re about to get will be its spit and image: familiar faces, timeworn histrionics, unending paralysis.

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Whoa be tide

Ruth Blatt, "The Lean And Mean Led Zeppelin Organization", Forbes 9/6/2014:

The Zeppelin organization was small by today’s standards, with a crew of only about 15 people traveling with the band. The band itself would arrive 30 minutes before a show. “They would turn up and they would go in the dressing room. There was no change of clothes or wardrobe or any of the poncy stuff. And whoa be tide if the stuff wasn’t ready,” he said “And it always was.”

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Whole heartily

Rod Dreher, 'The Coming Methodist Schism", 3/11/2014, quoting an anonymous Methodist pastor:

One of my more moderate theology professors once told me that you could take the platform of the Democrat Party, take out the Party name and replace it with God and the UMC and most all of the faculty, staff, administration, and student body would whole heartily support it.

A literal global replacement of "Democrat(s)" with "God and the UMC" in the 2012 Democratic Party platform produces somewhat bizarre results — the first sentence becomes (with the replacement-site in bold face)

Four years ago, God and the UMC, independents, and many Republicans came together as Americans to move our country forward.

And the third paragraph (with pluralization to preserve grammaticality) starts

We Gods and the UMC offer America the opportunity to move our country forward by creating an economy built to last and built from the middle out.

But anyhow, the reason that Kim Temple sent me a link to Mr. Dreher's article was not to give me this opportunity for substitutional humor, but rather to point out the charming eggcornish blend "whole heartily".

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Pathing the way

AKMA writes:

A student paper crossed my desk this week, in which the author wrote that the Letter to the Hebrews "pathed the way" for an understanding that Christ's superior sacrifice renders redundant the daily sacrifice in the Temple.  

A quick Google check for the phrase (new to me) shows about 167,000 results; it doesn't seem to show up in the eggcorn database or the forums (though I may be searching poorly). The substitution makes ample sense (apart from the nonstandard verb "pathe"), but I hadn't noticed it until today.

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Barraco Barner, UK President

You would be wrong if you thought Language Log hadn't taken note of the beautician in Blackpool, UK, who unwisely ventured into the geopolitical realm with this tweet:

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Steering through the non-grasping power mongrels

Michael Janda, "Gina Rinehart takes aim at Austalia's 'entitlement' mentality, points to Thatcher", 3/7/2014:

Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart has attacked Australia's entitlement mentality and called on the nation's leaders to emulate former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. […]

"Our political leaders are fortunate to have a leader they can emulate, a leader who well understood fundamental economic matters, critical for all countries and their standards of living," Mrs Rinehart said.  

"Margaret Thatcher took courageous decisions in the interests of Britain, despite the obvious noisy detractors.  

"Thatcher steered through a lack of courage in her own political party, which had become riddled with lefties or 'non-courageous wets' and self-interested power mongrels, who didn't grasp or didn't want to grasp what was needed for their own country."

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Affix dinners

Francois Lang wonders "Will this restaurant offer a Suffix Dinner next week?

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One of life's calm incidents

In Rex Stout's "It's Science That Counts" (All-Story Weekly, 1916), Jonas Simmons is a small-town hardware store owner, who has acquired the reputation of being a skilled boxer due to his practice of working out on a light punching-bag in the back of his store. For years, the Annual Picnic of the Holtville Merchants' Association has featured an open challenge for an exhibition bout with Simmons — a challenge which no one has ever taken up. Then a new young clerk in Bill Ogilvy's store, Mr. Notter, starts boasting about having been the boxing champion of Columbus, and a planned bout between Simmons and Notter is the talk of the picnic.

But Simmons was never all that much of a boxer, in fact, and so as the time for the bout approaches, he panics and runs away.

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Death Nail

IT sent in a link to a web forum post that includes the following (emphasis added):

However as I have mentioned a few days ago, data could well be the death nail for Ovivo, as I am sure Vodafone will limit the data bandwidth they can have, so the more customers Ovivo get the worse it will become. Who knows what deal they have on volume with Vodafone.

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Once so ever

Jasmine Bailey, "Pennsylvania newlyweds kill for the thrill", 12/7/2013:

Friday night, police arrested 22-year-old Elytte Barbour in the November death of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara. His 18-year-old wife, Miranda, was arrested for the same crime earlier this week. (Via WBRE)

She says LaFerrara groped her and after convincing her to turn herself into police, Elytte defended his wife’s story. (Via The Daily Item)

“I do not believe that this was malicious once so ever, I believe that she was attacked and that under those circumstances she took the necessary measures to defend herself.” (Via WHP-TV)

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