Archive for Eggcorns

Irish eggcorns

A guest post, via email from Maitiú Ó Coimín:

I just watched the interview Rob's Words on YouTube did with you last year. You mentioned that you'd like to hear about eggcorns in other languages. I think I have two for you from my first language: Irish.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (6)

Eggcorn of the week: "checks every block"

"Significant energy source found under US-Mexico border", KXAN 6/23/2024 [emphasis added]:

Researchers have found a significant source of geothermal energy underneath the U.S.-Mexico border along the Rio Grande, which could lead to promising clean energy development in the rural region. […]

“There’s a thin, 10- to 15-mile-wide region that runs parallel or along the Rio Grande that has very high heat by at least by most standards, and even in the interior part of the county, which is probably two-thirds of the county,” Ken Wisian, head of the research team, told NewsNation. […]

“Geothermal has a lot to offer rural communities, underserved communities, something like Presidio checks every block on the very large federal investment in production in tax credits on renewable energy,” Wisian said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)

Brazilian eggcorns

From André Vítor Camargo De Toledo:

Original: "Ideia de Jerico" (An ass's idea)
Eggcorn: "Ideia de Girino" (A tadpole's idea)
Why it happened: "Jerico" is almost a fossil word, and, to most people, only ever shows up when used in that idiom. It's an old word for "ass", which, as an animal, is associated with intellectual dullness here, so the idiomatic expression translates to "a dumb idea." Its meaning is preserved in the misheard version, as one would suppose tadpole's aren't much brighter than asses.

Original: "internet discada" (dial-up internet)
Eggcorn: "internet de escada" ("staircase internet")
Why it happened: Millennials like me tend to use the term "dial up internet" to refer to any kind of bad internet connection. Younger generations, not knowing what dial-up internet is, interpret it as "staircase internet", which makes sense, as people are generally much slower walking up staircases than we normally walk.

Original: "Não é da minha alçada" (not of my jurisdiction)
Eggcorn: "Não é da minha ossada" (not from my skeleton)
Why it happened: just a misheard expression. It means "that trouble doesn't belong to me" in both cases; one is a legal analogy while the other is an anatomical analogy, perhaps influenced by the idea that Eve was originally one of Adam's bones.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)

Despite their faces…

Jennifer Rubin, "Has Trump’s family abandoned him? I’m answering your questions", WaPo 4/24/2024:

Q: Are Republicans the party of no? Why can't Republicans say yes? Instead of getting a border deal in exchange for Ukraine funding, they got nothing.

A (Jennifer Rubin, Opinion Columnist):
Yup. They are the masters at cutting off their noses despite their faces. Remember that they really do not want to solve the problem. They want an ongoing crisis they can use against Biden. This is all to deny Biden a "win." Their obligations to their constituents and to their oaths evaporate in the face of performance politics.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (19)

RobWords on eggcorn

Comments (12)

Ancient eggcorns

The word eggcorn was originally proposed in a LLOG post almost 20 years ago — "Egg corns: folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreen, ???", 9/23/2003.  And the word is now recognized by most current English dictionaries and other relevant sources, which gloss it variously, e.g. —

  1. the  Oxford English Dictionary, ("An alteration of a word or phrase through the mishearing or reinterpretation of one or more of its elements as a similar-sounding word")
  2. Merriam-Webster: ("a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase either on its own or as part of a set expression")
  3. Wiktionary: ("A word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase either on its own or as part of a set expression")
  4. the Collins English Dictionary: ("a malapropism or misspelling arising from similarity between the sound of the misspelled or misused word and the correct one in the accent of the person making the mistake")
  5. the American Heritage Dictionary, ("A series of words that result from the misunderstanding of a word or phrase as some other word or phrase having a plausible explanation")
  6. Wikipedia: ("An eggcorn is the alteration of a phrase through the mishearing or reinterpretation of one or more of its elements, creating a new phrase having a different meaning from the original but which still makes sense and is plausible when used in the same context")

Those sources cite the examples eggcorn, to the manor born, old-timers' disease, ex-patriot, for all intensive purposes, feeble position, free reign, wipe board, card shark, and so on. Many more can be found at Chris Waigl's Eggcorn Database.

This morning, I'm appealing for help in answering two questions: What are some examples of eggcorns in other languages? And what are the earliest documented (or reconstructed) examples?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (148)

Rapid / rabid b'ball fans

A colleague recently called my attention to "rapid b’ball fans".  Carol Kennedy remarked to me that what the colleague intended was "rabid b’ball fans".  Carol noted further that her father, Leigh Lisker, an experimental phonetician and specialist on Telugu who was in the departments of linguistics and South Asian Regional Studies at Penn and was also affiliated as a research scientist at Haskins Laboratories, used "rapid" and "rabid" over and over again when he was exploring voice onset times, etc.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)

Rein and reign

The word rein, which the OED glosses as "A long narrow strap, frequently of leather, attached to the bridle or bit of a horse or other animal on either side of the head and used by a rider or driver to control and guide the animal", was apparently borrowed into English from French a millennium ago. The Wiktionary entry gives the etymology in detail:

From Middle English rein, reyne, borrowed from Anglo-Norman reyne, resne, from early Medieval Latin retina, ultimately from Classical Latin retineō (“hold back”), from re- + teneō (“keep, hold”). Compare modern French rêne.

Displaced native Old English ġewealdleþer (literally “control leather”).

But the OED entry makes an interesting (apparent) mistake in this case — the full etymology seems good, but the "Origin" line gives the French etymon as regne — and règne (in the modern spelling) is actually French for "kingdom", from Latin rēgnum, which is the origin of a different English word, namely reign.

Rein and reign have been pronounced the same way in English for some time — perhaps always? — and their meanings overlap in extended or figurative uses having to do with control. This led to some early eggcorns, even back in the days when most people had personal experience with physical reins. Thus the OED entry for free rein, glossed as "Freedom of action or expression. Chiefly in to give (a) free rein (to)", includes "free reign" citations going back to 1834:

1834 J. Eberle Treat. Dis. & Physical Educ. Children (ed. 2) i. i. 6 She, who giving a free reign [1833 (ed. 1) free rein] to her appetite, indulges it to excess.
1924 Times 26 Sept. 11/5 Others thought themselves above the law, and gave free reign to their passions.
1993 Outdoor Canada Mar. 33/3 So few pike survive to a large size that the ones who do have virtual free reign to raid the pantry.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (25)

The review mirror

From a recent spam email:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (23)

Stream of conscience

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (20)

"An unchartered situation for all of us"

Ed Silverman, "An unchartered situation for all of us’: From shipping containers to security concerns, a Covid-19 vaccine supply chain takes shape", STAT 9/8/2020 [emphasis added]:

The pandemic has prompted the U.S. government and others across the globe to secure huge numbers of doses from Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers, who are pushing clinical trial timelines like never before in order to get their vaccines ready for use as soon as possible. One or more of these vaccines may be approved by regulators here and abroad in the months ahead.

The effort to distribute those vaccines has accelerated just as quickly. Just as container makers are squeezing more out of their production plants, vaccine makers are busy modeling transportation routes and storage conditions in many countries. Wholesalers are lining up warehouse space and trucks. And freight forwarders and airport managers are expanding security for what will immediately become the world’s hottest commodity.

“I’m more than 30 years in the business and thought I’d seen everything, but it’s an unchartered situation for all of us,” said Larry St. Onge, global life sciences and health care sector president at DHL, which provides a range of transportation services for pharmaceutical products. “The scale of the challenge is going to be very large and there will be a pressing need to eliminate bottlenecks.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (25)

Visual mondegreen?

[This is a guest post by Stephen Plant]

I came across 'connorant' the other day, as in “gannets, connorants, vultures” in Ulysses. It was on the Guardian website. In my Penguin copy of Ulysses (p 526) it's spelt 'cormorant' (perhaps editions differ?). There are a surprising number of references to 'connorant' on line. I suppose the Ulysses connorants have a common ancestor, but the word connorant crops up in scientific journals too — here and here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (23)

"This laptop is loaded to bear"

Ewan Spence, "Apple Leak Reveals Radical New MacBook Pro", Forbes 5/4/2020:

Apple may finally be getting round to updating the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel’s tenth generation processors. The good news is that the MacOS powered laptop going to get a bucketload of extra power.[…]

This laptop is loaded to bear in terms of memory and storage as well. The current 13-inch MacBook Pro can be upgraded to 16 GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage, so we’re looking at a doubling of the core specs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (18)