Belgian whistles

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This one isn't in the Eggcorn Database, and doesn't seem to be mentioned in the forum either. [But googling the phrase is not recommended…]

There are a few other gems in the Twitter commentary:





  1. Kate Gladstone said,

    December 5, 2017 @ 11:41 pm

    To Kevin Clarke — Well, “scapegoat” derives from a Hebrew phrase meaning “goat that departs,” so “escape goat” makes some sense …

  2. Joyce Melton said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 1:53 am

    "Cut the mustard" as an expression is probably a very old eggcorn for "up to muster".

  3. Keith said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 2:09 am


    It was seeing The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt (the version in the Liverpool gallery) when I was about seventeen that made me understand the origin of the term as literally being "a goat that is made to escape, carrying away the congregation's sins".

  4. Adam F said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 3:15 am

    I looked for hits for "bells and waffles" but only found that Taco Bell now serves waffles.

  5. Dick Margulis said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 5:28 am

    I answered a newspaper classified ad in 1979 for a "paystub artist" (understanding that the company needed a paste-up artist and I needed a paystub). Although it probably originated as an order placed over the phone, and although the company was in the business of typesetting scholarly journals and generally employed literate people, they ran the same ad whenever they had an opening in the department and never bothered to correct it.

  6. Linda said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 6:37 am

    @ Joyce Melton.

    It would have to be a very old eggcorn as the OED has its earliest citation for "cut the mustard" meaning "to come up to expectations" dating back to 1895.

    [(myl) I don't know about the origins of cutting the mustard, but there have presumably been eggcorns as long as there have been languages. One random 17th-century example is "Jerusalem Artichoke", from girasole, for which the OED has citations back to 1620:

    1620   T. Venner Via Recta vii. 134   Artichocks of Ierusalem, is a roote vsually eaten with butter, vinegar, and pepper.
    1641   R. Greville Disc. Nature Episcopacie i. iv. 16   Error being like the Jerusalem-Artichoake; plant it where you will, it overrunnes the ground and choakes the Heart.


  7. Rodger C said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 7:49 am

    The New Yorker used to run examples of these all the time, in the days of phoned-in advertisements. My favorite was one for the Shakespeare play, A Fellow

  8. David L said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 10:04 am

    I wonder how many of these are generation by speech-to-text conversion…

  9. Mark Meckes said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 10:50 am

    I think they're all generated by speech-to-text conversion. In most cases, that conversion was done by human beings.

  10. Robert Coren said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 11:06 am

    @Rodger C: That reminds me of a long-ago New Yorker filler quoting a restaurant's help-wanted ad seeking a sioux-chef.

  11. ajay said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 11:47 am

    a restaurant's help-wanted ad seeking a sioux-chef.

    A Man Called Hors D'Oeuvres

  12. Michael Edits said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 6:31 pm

    Y'all forgot about the doggy-dog world.

  13. Michael Watts said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 8:02 pm

    "pre-Madonna" has been a joke, circulating in humor collections, for a long time. This makes it somewhat questionable, though not impossible, as a genuine eggcorn.

  14. Emily said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 11:05 pm

    "Pacifically" for "specifically" is an interesting error, though it's probably just the doing of autocorrect.

  15. Anthony said,

    December 6, 2017 @ 11:43 pm

    For "pacifically" I write "pace".

  16. maidhc said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 2:25 am

    Emily: I heard someone say that very thing earlier today, and he was standing right in front of me.

    I think, though, that in a way it is autocorrect. I think it's something often said by people who learned English by ear more than by reading. Initial 'sp' is somewhat difficult to hear and it's a sound that doesn't occur in a lot of languages.

    Someone I knew who was not a native English speaker told me that when he was learning, he observed that when people parted company they said "slater". So he started saying "slater" too, and everyone seemed to accept it. It was a couple of years before his ear had become acute enough to realize that people were actually saying "See you later".

  17. Joyce Melton said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 2:45 am


    I did say very old and probably. :)

    I haven't seen this suggestion anywhere else but the first time I heard the expression "up to muster" and its meaning, I immediately thought that it was probably the origin of "cut the mustard" since their meanings and sounds are so similar. I'm giving my own age away when I mention that this was over fifty years ago.

    An observation of "Cut the mustard" in print has been traced back to 1889 in Kansas and neither had nor apparently needed an accompanying explanation. That's before even my time.

  18. ajay said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 4:23 am

    "Pacifically" for "specifically" is an interesting error, though it's probably just the doing of autocorrect.

    I don't think so – I've heard it in spoken English, which implies it doesn't come from autocorrect. I'd think it's more likely to represent that "specifically" is normally preceded by a pronoun, and the combination can changed from "she specifically" to "she's pacifically" while remaining grammatical: so "she specifically told me to do this" goes to "she's pacifically told me to do this" both of which are OK.

  19. ajay said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 4:24 am

    Artichoake; plant it where you will, it overrunnes the ground and choakes the Heart.

    An impressive pun. "It's called an artichoke because it chokes yer 'art."

  20. Rob said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 5:01 am

    @Emily, I have a friend who actually says “pacifically”.
    You should hear him try to say “Mitsubishi “.

  21. RP said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 5:50 am

    "Pacific" for "specific" isn't necessarily a case of using the wrong word. It could be regarded as simply a colloquial simplified pronunciation of "specific". Cf "spose" for "suppose", "libry" for "library" – even if a word "libry" exists or existed, this wouldn't mean that the person was getting the two words mixed up… or there's the recently discussed "pen"/"pin" merger in some accents. Of course, missing out the leading "s" of "specific" is widely considered uneducated, whereas "pen"="pin" may be completely standard in some regions, but the point is, pronouncing two words the same isn't the same thing as getting them mixed up.

  22. Walton said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 8:41 am

    That's a totally legitimate use of Belgian Whistles. I looked it up in my dictionary. Many people remain woefully ignorant of how good the Belgian whistle industry is:

  23. Grover Jones said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 12:38 pm

    Someone will need to explain "customer's neck size" to this idiot. I'm lost.

  24. Dick Margulis said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 1:14 pm

    customs and excise

  25. Grover Jones said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 2:15 pm


  26. Brett said,

    December 7, 2017 @ 3:31 pm

    I had no idea that "specific" had an s at the beginning until I was in second grade. My mother pronounced with minimal s, and I just took it to be a homophone for "Pacific" until I had a teacher read the word off a worksheet she was giving me.

  27. Berna said,

    December 8, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

    I don't get 'restbite care'.

  28. Dick Margulis said,

    December 8, 2017 @ 1:40 pm

    respite care

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