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Barbara Phillips Long sent in a striking eggcorn that she spotted in a comment on a story in the Baltimore Sun:

401K fund managers have been ripping off employees blind for the past 30 years. the employers have known this and have hidden this from the employees. the SEC has known this, but really doesn't care or have the wear-with-all to go after every single 401K management firm because many of them are divisions within large financial firms that lobby congress every year to keep a lid on it. [emphasis added]

This one was discussed at length in the Eggcorn Forum on 10/20/2006 by jorkel. It's a classic eggcorn, in the sense that it provides a (somewhat) interpretable re-analysis for a compound (here where + withal) that no longer makes much if any sense in its conventional meaning, The re-analysis remains a bit opaque, but as jorkel puts it

As an eggcorn, “wear-with-all” could possibly refer to versatile clothing: useable for all purposes. This interpretation captures the notion of a resource. But, since I can’t read the utterers’ mind, an alternative interpretation of “wear-with-all” is the ability to weather whatever comes …perhaps even have the fortitude to endure the wear.

Barbara's suggestion:

This is probably not the first time that people have thought having an adequate wardrobe denotes having adequate funds.


  1. John Lawler said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    I haven't even gotten to the eggcorn; in the first line of the quotation is ripping off employees blind. I can't say that; can you? Either ripping off employees or robbing employees blind, but not together.

  2. Twitter Trackbacks for Language Log » “Wear-with-all” [upenn.edu] on Topsy.com said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

    […] Language Log » “Wear-with-all” languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2721 – view page – cached Barbara Phillips Long sent in a striking eggcorn that she spotted in a comment on a story in the Baltimore Sun: Tweets about this link […]

  3. Scott said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

    @John Lawler, I thought the exact same thing! I quite like the ring of it, though.

  4. M. Radhakrishnan said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

    Two I've seen online in the last day are a description of a lady as "urethral in her elegance" (*hoping* the writer meant ethereal) and a description of that old-fashioned ruffle-trimmed undergarment with legs, the pair of "panty looms." The first is the only hit on google for the phrase, but "panty looms" for "pantaloons" (or, if you want to be a stickler for historical garment accuracy, "pantalettes") seems to have a relatively wide following.

  5. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

    I suspect 'urethral' is more likely to be a cupertino.

  6. SimonMH said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

    I think it's quite good. These thieves have even taken the shirts from our backs, so wear-with-all that we have left

  7. John said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

    "… urethral in her elegance" is just polite for "piss-poor fashion sense".

  8. groki said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    punning eggcorns used intentionally in marketing might make for an interesting study (though perhaps there are too many examples).

    the goog pointed me to the similar "ware-with-all" from Pariser Industries, a company with a cleaning system for food-service ware:

    Pariser has the Ware-With-All to do it better. Count on Pariser Industries for warewashing systems and products that eliminate waste and provide sparkling ware while sanitizing your entire food service operation.

  9. groki said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

    @John Lawler ripping off employees blind: even their eyeballs were stolen!

  10. Tom Recht said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

    "Urethral in her elegance" reminds me of my student who proposed to write a paper on the "judicial and penile system" of apartheid South Africa.

  11. J. Goard said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

    @John Lawler:

    Me either. I started off wondering what nefarious tricks fund managers used to rip off people who had been blind for 30 years.

  12. Nijma said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    A memo went around last summer about "mix match day". The students explained to me it meant you were supposed to wear clothes that didn't match, for example, shoes and socks of different colors. But when the sign went up, it said "mismatch day".

  13. Morriss Partee said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

    "Ripping off employees blind" seems clear to me: it's shorthand for when you violently remove the clothes off your employees, and they are such hideous creatures that you go blind when you gaze upon them naked.

  14. Dan T. said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 12:29 am

    "Urethral" means she's similar to that famous soul singer Urethra Franklin, of course! :-)

  15. Adam Funk said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 4:37 am

    "Pariser has the Ware-With-All to do it better" — does the capitalization indicate "Ware-With-All" is a trademark?

  16. maidhc said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 4:40 am

    I don't understand "wherewithal". Shouldn't it be "whichwithal"?

    Except possibly in phrases like "I have the wherewithal to spend a weekend at the seaside", meaning one owns a holiday home.

  17. Pflaumbaum said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 5:22 am

    If I remember right 'where' was an oblique form of the relative pronoun, so it has no location meaning in most of these compounds with prepositions, eg whereby, wherein, whereas, wherefore etc.

    But I might be wrong.. will check when I get home unless someone else can tell us.

  18. Pflaumbaum said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 5:24 am

    Actually 'wherein' probably shouldn't be included there…

  19. Kylopod said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 7:38 am

    How do you send things in to this site? I don't see any email addresses.

  20. Theophylact said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 10:05 am

    Well, you can always send something to one of the authors (see list in sidebar; often you can find an e-mail address) and hope.

  21. Rodger C said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 10:06 am

    People who rip off employees blind should be shot dead.

  22. Xmun said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

    whereby, wherein, whereas, wherefore

    Cognate with German wobei, worin, [what? does worals exist?: my dictionary translates whereas as während], wofür

    And also listed are wodurch, woher, wohin, womit, wonach, woran, worauf, woraus, worüber, worum, worunter, wovon, wovor, wozu, some of which at least have corresponding forms in English such as whence, whither, whereupon, etc.

    But, alas, "wherewithal" is not translated but merely explained as "das nötige Kleingeld (, um etwas zu tun)".

  23. KevinM said,

    October 22, 2010 @ 11:46 am

    Whatever it is, a wear-with-all has got to be black, white or maybe taupe.

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