Ancient eggcorns

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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?

Eggcorn psycholinguistics guarantees there have been eggcorns as long as there have been languages. I suspect that the documentation of linguistic history includes many examples, and historical-comparative reconstruction contributes others. Contemporary usage must provide examples from every language and variety around the world. But I'm ashamed to say that I  can't think of any non-English examples — commenters no doubt will fill the void

As for the history, the oldest (maybe?) documented example that I know of (if we allow folk etymologies to stand as evidence of widely-adopted eggcorns) is jerusalem artichoke, which the OED glosses as

A species of sunflower, Helianthus tuberosus, native to North America and widely cultivated for its edible, knobby, tuberous roots

…with citations back to the 17th century:

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.

What's the eggcornality here? Wikipedia explains

Despite one of its names, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relationship to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke, though the two are distantly related as members of the daisy family. Italian settlers in the United States called the plant girasole, the Italian word for sunflower, because of its familial relationship to the garden sunflower (both plants are members of the genus Helianthus). Over time, the name girasole (pronounced closer to [dʒiraˈsuːlə] in southern Italian dialects) was corrupted by English-speakers to Jerusalem. An alternative explanation for the name is that the Puritans, when they came to the New World, named the plant with regard to the "New Jerusalem" they believed they were creating in the wilderness.

In support of the girasole (= "turn sun") hypothesis, Wikipedia cites James Edward Smith, An Introduction to physiological and systematical botany (1807), who footnoted the term thus:

A corruption, as I presume, of the Italian name Girasole Articiocco, sun-flower Artichoke, as the plant was first brought from Peru to Italy, and thence propagated throughout Europe.

That seems plausible, since Tobias Venner, the author of that 1620 citation, was English — and the Mayflower didn't arrive in Massachusetts until 1620. But again, there must be many examples from thousands of years ago in the documented history of Mesopotamia, China, India, Persia, Egypt, etc., as well as even older examples from reconstructed parent languages. (Though  these ancient examples, again,  will mainly be "folk etymologies" that we can take as originally eggcorns….)



  1. Keith Ivey said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 9:00 am

    How do you distinguish an eggcorn from folk etymology?

  2. Coby said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 9:01 am

    I think that Cinderella's glass slipper comes from mistaking soulier de vair (a kind of fur) for soulier de verre.

  3. Peter Taylor said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 9:30 am

    Coby, that is one folk explanation. A monograph published last year argues that it was a parody of the aristocratic vogue for glass. Summary in the popular press; the monograph is Warwick, G. (2022). Cinderella's Glass Slipper: Towards a Cultural History of Renaissance Materialities. Cambridge University Press.

  4. Yuval said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 10:26 am

    Proud to represent the Hebrew linguablogosphere here. At Dagesh Kal we translated eggcorn into עצטרובל, which is an eggcorn for אצטרובל itztrubal 'pine cone' by inserting the false component עץ 'tree', carefully keeping the broad semantic field of "seed-bearing objects found in forests". We have a category dedicated to the phenomenon, there's a hashtag, another hashtag using the transliterated אגקורן egkorn, and there should be a "database" (=spreadsheet) somewhere. I'll translate a few items:

    * נכנס למראה שחורה entered a black mirror (instead of "black bile"), signifying someone who got depressed
    * להיעזר בסבלנות to be aided by (instead of "to gird oneself with") patience
    * כאהבת נפשו as his soul loved (instead of "wished")
    * פלייסמנט pleisment (transliterating "placemat" as if it were "placement")
    * איש עמיד resilient (instead of "affluent") person

    Feel free to email me for more.

  5. George said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 11:09 am

    In French you'll frequently find 'valoir le coût' for 'valoir le coup' but I'm not convinced it's exactly the same phenomenon, without being able to put my finger on why I'm not convinced.

  6. Jichang Lulu said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 12:19 pm

    A common German example — Abendteuer for Abenteuer ‘adventure’ (from French), with Abend ‘evening’ inserted.

  7. Brett said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 12:23 pm

    I think there is at least one instance of a cartouche for one of the Ptolemies being written with the 𓎛 from Ptah (who the pharaohs of the dynasty took as their native patron deity, because of its sound) instead of the correct 𓍯.

  8. Brett said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 12:25 pm

    Apparently, those Unicode characters didn't work. It was supposed to be the V28 from Gardiner's sign list (twisted stick), instead of the correct V4 (lasso).

    [(myl) I think I inserted the correct html versions…]

  9. Eyal said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 12:29 pm

    Adding to the invaluable list Yuval mentioned, in Hebrew we also have a Facebook group called אף לב הפלא (/af lev hapele/, literally "though heart of wonder") which is itself an eggcorn of הפלא ופלא (/ha'fle va'fele/ literally "Wonder of Wonders") which is an interjection that means "Lo and behold".

    I think a common name for eggcorn around group members is a "Jontra", after the misnaming of Hollywood actor Jontra Volta.

  10. Steve said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 1:00 pm

    The Italian phrase I’m aware of is 'imbocca a lupo' for 'in bocca al lupo'. The latter means ‘into the mouth of the wolf' and is akin to English 'break a leg' when wishing someone luck. The former means something like 'feed the wolf' and is apparently seen here and there across Italian social media.

  11. David Eddyshaw said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 1:26 pm

    In the Toende Kusaal language of Ghana and Burkina Faso, the word for "kidneys" is sɛ-iina, where the sɛ- element means "waist, loins." The second component has clear cognates meaning "kidney" in the related languages (e.g. Buli yiini), but now never appears as an independent word in Kusaal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has often been replaced by the familiar but quite unrelated nini "eyes": sɛ-nini "kidneys" (so "loin eyes"), and in consequence has acquired the new singular form sɛ-nif ("loin eye") alongside the inherited sɛ-iin.

    I first came across the word in the Agolle Kusaal dialect of Ghana, where the word is just sianif "kidney", plural sianini. I found the (apparently) metaphorical use of "eye" rather startling at the time. And so it is: the word is an eggcorn.

  12. cameron said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 6:02 pm

    I'm not sure how old it is but the originally eggcornish term "sparrowgrass" was at one time the most common term for asparagus in English. The Latinists corrected it away over time. I'm one of the lonely few who tries to keep that usage alive.

  13. unekdoud said,

    June 18, 2023 @ 3:35 am

    Anything listed on the Wikipedia pages for "Folk etymology" (linked above) or "Rebracketing" should qualify.

    "Orange" is an eggcorn!

  14. Freddy Hill said,

    June 18, 2023 @ 5:15 am

    The Spanish name for Key West is Cayo Hueso – “Key Bone”, named after an ancient battleground in the island where many bones could be seen. It seems that English speakers reinterpreted “hueso” as “West”. It made sense, since it’s the westernmost key.

  15. Adrian Bailey said,

    June 18, 2023 @ 12:21 pm

    @Keith Ivey
    1. An eggcorn isn't an etymology, it's a (non-standard) usage or lexeme.
    2. Many folk etymologies are (erroneous) attempts at explaining the origins of standard words and phrases.
    3. An eggcorn, when analysed, makes (some kind of) sense, whereas folk etymologies don't have to.

  16. Michael said,

    June 18, 2023 @ 1:37 pm

    I don't know how old it is, but the mistranslation of Vindaloo always fascinated me. It comes from Portuguese vin d'alho, and came to Goa when Portugal set up a colony there. However, in Hindi aloo means potato, so it was assumed to be vind-aloo, and so potatoes were added to it. The modern British version almost always has potatoes in it.

    The dish came to Goa in the 16th or 17th century, eventually spread to other parts of India, and eventually ended up in Britain. However, I can't seem to find a source on when Hindi speakers may have started adding potatoes to it.

  17. FM said,

    June 18, 2023 @ 3:10 pm

    A famous one in French is « pied d’estal » for « piédestal » (‘pedestal’), although « estal » doesn’t mean anything.

  18. Jonathan Smith said,

    June 18, 2023 @ 7:03 pm

    "seagle, cuz they're the eagles of the sea" — kid overheard today

  19. Rodger C said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 9:43 am

    My students were constantly writing about "putting women on a pedal stool."

  20. Andreas Johansson said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 9:48 am

    A funny Swedish one is undervisitet "teachity", for universitet "university".

  21. Martin said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 11:33 am

    The German word for the city Milan is Mailand; that is, May-land. Coming over the Alps from a northern winter, it certainly must have felt like May when reaching Italy.

  22. Jerry Packard said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 3:01 pm

    I’m with Keith Ivey , I don’t see why ‘folk etymology’ isn’t sufficient to the task. I don’t find what Adrian Bailey said to distinguish them to be clear and compelling.

  23. Jichang Lulu said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 3:49 pm

    Standard acorn itself involves a folk etymology, if too general to yield an eggcorn (understood as a rare folk etymology involving perfect homophony — which definition might not be uncontroversial). The corn bit is unetymological.

  24. Jichang Lulu said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 3:50 pm

    རྐུབ་རྐྱག rkub rkyag for རྐུབ་ཀྱག rkub kyag ‘chair’. These are perfectly homophonous in, e.g., Central Tibetan (Tournadre kupkyak). Per Tsinokpoulos:

    rkyag means “excrement”, so this misspelling literally looks like “butt shit” or “shit from the butt”.

  25. TR said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 5:40 pm

    Speaking of Jerusalem, the ancient Greek form Ἱερουσαλήμ seems to qualify since its rough breathing is due to the influence of ἱερός "holy".

  26. ktschwarz said,

    June 20, 2023 @ 1:43 pm

    The word for date (fruit of the date palm) seems to have been an eggcorn in Ancient Greek. Our word date descends from Greek δάκτυλος (dáktulos), which was probably borrowed into Greek from a Semitic language, perhaps Aramaic diqlā 'date palm'. But then why did the Greeks put a t in it? Probably because δάκτυλος was already the Greek word for finger, and dates are sort of finger-shaped.

  27. Jonathan Smith said,

    June 20, 2023 @ 2:35 pm

    Folk etymologizing that affects the form of loan words from the get-go (examples above) seems to be an important special case of the phenomenon in question…

  28. Jim said,

    June 22, 2023 @ 3:31 pm

    The city of Ponderay, Idaho sits on Lake Pend Oreille. That falls under this idea somehow.

  29. Taylor, Philip said,

    June 23, 2023 @ 3:08 am

    And the Cornish village of Dobwalls is immediately adjacent to the village of Doublebois, tho' some authorities deny the possibility of the former originally being a mis-hearing of the latter, a hypothesis I continue to espouse.

  30. minirop said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 10:52 am

    One quite spread eggcorn in French is "quand même" ("anyway", "still", etc.) is written as "comme même" (litterally "as same")

    So you get sentences like "he wasn't the favourite, but he as same won the race".

  31. Andrew Rabbitt said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 11:14 am

    There's a common Scandinavian saying that seems to stem from Danish.

    Norwegian "å kjenna ugler i mosen"
    Danish "at kende ugler i mosen"
    Swedish "att ana ugglor i mossen"

    All meaning literally "to sense owls in the moss", in English roughly corresponding to "to smell a rat; sense something fishy".
    The two Danish words "ugler" (owls) and "ulver" (wolves) sound very similar in most dialects, both being written as both "uler" and "uller" in different places. Once wolves were hunted to extinction in Denmark in the 1800s it, for whatever reason, made more sense to say owls instead of wolves.
    This is complicated further in Norwegian and Swedish: "mose" can mean bog or mire in Danish but only moss in the other two!

  32. Taylor Francis said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 11:15 am

    I cringe when I hear "bone apple tea" instead of "bon apetit"… OK… now I get it that someone is trying to make sense of a word/phrase they've never heard before… but this one is still fingernails on a chalkboard for me!

  33. Toni said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 12:16 pm

    Spanish is full of words based on misheard foreign words. Right now, the only one that comes to mind is the Spanish name for English channel, "Canal de la Mancha" [Literally "Channel of the Stain"] based on French name for the same geographical feature "la Manche" [Literally "the Sleeve"]. Would that count as an eggcorn, or is it too ingrained now?

  34. Quentin said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 12:37 pm

    A classic French exemple which I think is at the frontier between eggcorn and folk etymology is "autant pour moi".
    It means basically "my bad". The correct way to write it (according to the French academy) would be "au temps pour moi" (at time for me) which comes from some military etymology and makes no sense. "Autant pour moi" is literally "as much for me" which seems to make more sense.
    Since the new way of writing it is gaining momentum and is starting to get recognized, one could argue it's an eggcorn becoming a folk etymology.
    Anyhow, I like the new one better and I use it like this knowing that it's wrong ^^

  35. Aubrey said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 1:10 pm

    When I first heard my peers using the phrase "I ship it", meaning "I think those two should be in a relationship," I thought they were saying "I chip it," and interpreted it as placing a bet that two people would end up dating.

  36. Matt said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 1:19 pm

    MSNBC recently had a supertitle(?) that read "Chaos Rains." Isn't it chaos reigns?

  37. Drabkikker said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 2:14 pm

    I've been collecting Dutch eggcorns for a while (blogpost over here: The list isn't very impressive and not all entries fit the bill equally well, but some nice ones are:

    pubertijd for "puberty" instead of puberteit. The pronunciation of both terms is about the same, except for the stress laying on different syllables. Pubertijd literally means "puberty/adolescence time", and isn't 'wrong' per se, but tijd "time" is clearly a reinterpretation of -teit (the equivalent of English "-ty").
    baxinelichtje. The correct term is waxinelichtje "tealight", waxine originally being the brand name of the stuff they were made of. But they come in a bakje ("cup"), hence the reinterpretation with b-.
    magerine for margarine. Mager means "slim", "skinny", so there is an association with "diet".
    rontonde for "roundabout" instead of the correct rotonde. Ront sounds like rond which means "round".
    een wet van meten en persen: this one comes from the Bible, the correct version being een wet van Meden en Perzen "a law of Medes and Persians", referring to a very strict law that can't be revoked. Meten en persen, however, means "to measure and press/squeeze", the association being something like "forcefully trying to push something into a space where it doesn't fit."
    slachttanden instead of slagtanden "tusks". The correct version with slag- means something like "hitting/striking teeth"; the eggcorn version with slacht- means "slaughter teeth".
    stand op heden instead of stante pede, a Latin phrase meaning "immediately", "right away" (literally "with one's foot standing still"). The eggcorn version is pronounced nearly identically and would translate to something like "standing on today."
    onalfabeet instead of analfabeet "illiterate". The Dutch prefix on- is the equivalent of English "un-".

  38. Chelly Wood said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 2:19 pm

    My sister-in-law re-decorated her bathroom in "Doe bee" theme. I asked, "Is that some kind of woodland creatures theme, like you'd see in an evergreen forest?" She said, "No, it's just a really earthy theme, more like you'd see in the desert." So I went into her bathroom to take a look. It was painted in adobe-colored paint, with earthenware pots on the shelves. A-DO-BE themed…

  39. Martha Nygård said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 2:30 pm

    Norwegian! Ugler i Mosen and Kjære Mor

    'her er der Ugler i mosen'. Meaning 'there are owls in the moss here'. Being used the same way as "something smells fishy". Like why are the owls in the moss and not in the trees? Something is wrong here, we should beware. Except the original saying is from Danish "Uller i mosen', meaning 'there are wolves in the swamp', and when there are wolves in the swamp, livestock herders better beware!
    This is from back when Danish was the official language of Norway of course, and before the Wolves were eradicated in Denmark.

    "Her er det ingen kjære mor" meaning "there is no dear/darling mother here", being used when expressing that you will show no mercy. But the original is actually from Danish legal terminology – Kjæremål, meaning appealing your case. So basically "there will be no appeal" basically the same way you in English say "take no prisoners". Show no mercy, no hesitation, and no regret

    These two are both so old though that they've become more commonly used than their origin, so it bridges into Folk Etymology

    Also! My cousin when she was a child eggcorned the phrase "du skal høste det du sår" – you harvest what you sow – into "du skal gjødsle det du sår" – you fertilize what you sow
    And honestly? Much more optimistic. sorta beautiful

  40. Paul said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 2:50 pm

    In Swedish we have a saying "Dra alla över en kam" (pull everyone over a comb). Probable from German "alle über einen Kamm scheren"

    Meaning: Judge everyone equally/in the same way.
    Has a slightly negative connotation."

    Well the potential eggcorn is "Dra alla över en kant" (pull everyone over a edge)


  41. Ines said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 3:10 pm

    Two examples for German, which are only noticeable written down, because the eggcorn and the original sound the same.

    In German you can know something "aus dem Stegreif" but most people will write this as "aus dem Stehgreif". A "Stegreif" (made up of the words "Steg" and "Reif") is an old word for stirrup, which is better known as "Steigbügel" nowadays. So knowing something "aus dem Stegreif" means to know it instantly or "off by heart", basically while you are still dismounting, without any preparation. But since another way of saying this in German is to know something "aus dem Stand" (while standing) with "Stand" being the noun for the verb "stehen" and to present information instantly can make it seem "aus der Luft gegriffen" (grasped out of thin air) which provides the verb "greifen" (grasp"), the "Steh-greif" makes more sense if you do not know ye olde "Steg-reif".

    The saying "wer zuerst kommt, mahlt zuerst" (he who comes first, grinds first) talking about the order in which people could have their grain ground at the mill often gets rendered as "wer zuerst kommt, malt zuerst" (with the H missing: he who comes first, paints first). It sounds the same and nowadays painting "malen" is a more accessible activity than grinding grain "mahlen". The principle "first come, first served" is conveyed either way.

  42. Peter Ravn Rasmussen said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 3:46 pm

    In Danish, there is a regular expression, proverbial in character: "Man skal ikke skue hunden på hårene" (Lit. "One should not look on a dog's hairs", but the meaning is "One should not judge a book by its cover"). The phrase goes back to at least the 17th century, appearing in a book of proverbs collected by Peder Syv [1631-1702].

    "Skue" is pronounced /ˈsguːə/, and it is extremely common for people to mistakenly use the near-homophone "skure" (meaning "to scrub", pronounced /ˈsguːʌ/), giving the phrase "Man skal ikke skure hunden mod hårene" ("One should not scrub a dog against its hairs").

    While making sense in its own way, this does not quite give the same meaning, so perhaps it's not a true eggcorn. It does reveal, however, that a lot of people never really grasped the original expression's meaning.

  43. fredrik said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 3:50 pm

    Swedish eggcorns: referring to bumping your funny bone as "enkelstöt" (easy knock) instead of "änkestöt" (widow's knock).

    The reasoning behind "enkelstöt" just seems to be that it is an accident that can easily happen, whereas "änkestöt" is a reference to the somewhat morbid expression "änkesorg och armbågsstöt går fort över” (the widow's grief and the pain from elbow knocks pass quickly).

    I'm a bit unsure if this next one is really an eggcorn. It is supposed to mean "treat everyone equally", where the eggcorn is "dra alla över en kant" (pull everyone over one edge) instead of "dra alla över en kam" (pull everyone over one comb). Apparently, the "correct" version is a corruption of "skära alla över en kam" (cut everyone over one comb), referring to sheep. Pulling people over an edge does not really make sense for the phrase, but it sort of makes more sense than pulling them over a comb…

    Finally, Wikipedia helped out with "blixtstilla" (lightning still) instead of "blickstilla" (kind of obsolete phrase meaning absolutely still), as well as "hjortronsalt" (cloudberry salt) instead of "hjorthornssalt" (hartshorn salt).

    Sorry for the wonky English versions, it was a bit tricky to translate accurately

  44. Daniel Sepulveda said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 4:44 pm

    An eggcorn in spanish that immediately comes to mind is the use of "ladrador" to refer to the Labrador Dog.
    Given that "ladrador" means barker, it does make a lot of sense!

  45. Michael said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 5:00 pm

    German "unter alle Kanone" is often thought by Germans to reference cannons, but it does not.

  46. Daniel Sepulveda said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 5:04 pm

    A spanish egghorn that comes to mind is using "ladrador" to refer to a Labrador dog.

    Given that "ladrador" means barker, it is a funny mistake that still makes sense.

  47. Max said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 5:09 pm

    In Afrikaans we have a saying “Ek het dit gekoop vir ‘n appel en ‘n ei” (“I bought it for an apple and an egg”), which means you got something for very cheap. We don’t use the word “ei” anywhere else in Afrikaans (we use “eier”), so for this reason, many people mistakenly say “vir ‘n appel en ‘n ui” – “for an apple and an onion”. I used to make this mistake myself as well!

  48. Heidi said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 5:15 pm

    Espresso. Expresso.

  49. IlanMS said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 6:40 pm

    Hebrew eggcorns.

    I apologize for bad English. AFAIK all the following did not make it into dictionaries, may never will, and sometimes are frowned upon, but are in use:

    אם בארזים נפלה שלהבת – meaning "if (even) cedars caught fire", an idiom that means that if even the strong and mighty are overcome
    אם בארזים נפלה שלכת – meaning "if (even) cedars are in fall" (since cedars do not shed leaves for fall/winter). Very common eggcorn.

    תהום פעורה meaning "gaping abyss"
    פעור תהומה meaning "abyssal gape" (Personally never met this one).

    מתי מעט meaning "few people" with archaic word for people
    מעטי מעט meaning "few of the few". Very common eggcorn.

    זריית חול בעיניים meaning "sprinkling sand at (ones) eyes" with archaic word for sprinkling
    זריעת חול בעיניים "seeding (planting) sand in (ones) eyes". Very common eggcorn.

    לא היו דברים מעולם and לא דובים ולא יער, meaning "things that never happened" and an idiom, "neither bears nor wood (forest)" respectively. Both have the very same meaning, and are often rephrased to לא היו דובים מעולם meaning "there were never any bears" which makes sense because there are no bears in Israel for hundreds of years now.

    מרוב עצים לא רואים את היער meaning "you can't see the wood for the trees" and the very same לא דובים ולא יער "neither bears nor wood (forest)"
    merged to מרוב דובים לא רואים את היער meaning "you can't see the wood for the bears".

    לחם חוק, "law's bread" an idiom meaning something that is a routine, and חוק ברזל, "iron law" an idiom meaning a law that is fundamental and must never be broken
    merged to לחם חוק ברזל, "iron law's bread" which is sort of in between – "the common, unbreakable law". Very common eggcorn.

    קרם עור וגידים "sprouted/created skin and sinews", an archaic idiom for became a reality
    רקם עור וגידים "weaved skin and sinews", same meaning. Quite common eggcorn.

    The next one was invented by a comedian and became an idiom that makes some sense, used knowingly and frequently
    נקעה נפשו "his spirit twisted" an archaic idiom meaning had enough, is fed up with, was used to construct העם נקעה רגלו "the nation/people had its/their leg twisted" meaning the people had enough and are fed up. Very common eggcorn.

    A simple translation of a Latin idiom that kept the original idiom context, יד רוחצת יד "hand washes hand" is being replaced with יד לוחצת יד "hand shakes hand" and kept the original meaning of corruption – you will do (unethical or even criminal) this for me and I will do (unethical or even criminal) that for you". So common, and the original is so rare in use, that I am surprised it is not officially ratified.

    משולח רסן archaic "free of bridle"
    משולל רסן "without bridle". Very common eggcorn.

    I have verified these, and added one I was not familiar with, in the linguist Ruvik Rosental's site

    p.s. Did you notice "prolly"? Not an eggcorn, but widely used knowingly instead of "probably". Where I hang out, "prolly" is used more than "probably", maybe because it sounds cooler/up-to-date.

  50. Anton said,

    June 24, 2023 @ 11:38 pm

    An example of an eggcorn in swedish is for the word "mjälthugg" which is a sharp pain felt at the bottom of your ribs and would literally translate to "spleen chop". But some people (including myself) say "mjälttugg" which would literally translate to "spleen chew".

  51. Eina said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 2:35 am

    Another german example:
    "Da scheiden sich die Geister" literally "That's where the spirits part" meaning "Opinions differ" is often misunderstood as "Da streiten sich die Geister" which translates to "That's where the spirits are fighting". "Geister" in german is most commonly used to mean "spirits" or "ghosts", but it also means the "spirits" or "souls" of people and "scheiden" means "to part" or "to divorce", but most people only really use it when speaking of the divorce of a marriage. Which is why, when referring to differing opinions it makes more sense to them to speak of fighting ghosts.

  52. Cathrine Lindegaard said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 4:30 am

    We have one in Norwegian, although I'm not sure if this one counts as an Eggcorn, as the phrase is still the same, but people are now misunderstanding its meaning. The phrase is:

    "Bear Service" or "To do someone a bear service" – "En bjørnetjeneste".

    The expression derives from Jean de La Fontaines's fable "L'Ours et l'amateur des jardins" or "The Bear and the Gardener". The bear's duty is to keep flies off the gardener while he is taking a nap, and in order to permanently remove a particularly persistent fly, the bear picks up a rock to kill the fly, and ends up crushing the gardeners head in at the same time.

    You find the same expression in both German (Bärendienst) and French (le pavé de l'ours), as well as Swedish and Danish.

    Although the expression does not have an English version, the meaning is to do someone a disservice. The fable makes it clear, but as an example; to give children lots of sweets instead of real food because you want to make them happy, but later in the day they all have tummy aches. Good intentions, negative consequence.

    There is another phrase in Norwegian, Bear Hug. This is absolutely a good thing. You don't just give someone a hug, you give them a great, big, bear hug. It is believed that this phrase is the cause of people now using "bear service" incorrectly. Using it instead to mean that they do someone a BIG service. To lend a friend a fiver is just a little favour, but to help him move house is a bear service.

    That's obviously not the intended meaning. :)

  53. Jan Paul said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 4:52 am

    I've got you one from Dutch, though it might border on a folk etymology: "Pin ijzer" (pin iron) for "Punaise" (a drawing pin or thumb tack). I'm sure it didn't help that the word came from French.
    "Over een kam scheren" is also an expression in Dutch, though I see that the explanation differs from those for the German and Scandinavian versions. For Dutch they refer to barbers or weavers practices, in German to punitive and sheep shearing, the latter also for Swedish.
    @Drabkikker Analogous to 'Slachttand' you might have "Slachtveld" for 'Slagveld'.
    I wonder if "Hij heeft de kok horen fluiten want hij weet niet waar lepel hangt." (He heard the cook whistle because he doesn't know where the spoon is hanging) for "He heeft de klok horen luiden, maar hij weet niet waar de klepel hangt." (He heard the bell toil but doesn't know where the clapper is hanging) falls in this category, or is just a joke.

  54. Drabkikker said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 6:06 am

    @ Jan Paul: Yes, you're absolutely right! In fact, slachtveld was already on my list.
    Lol, yes, and I've also heard about the kok/lepel one :) I think it's a joke as you suggest, but who knows…

  55. Julius said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 6:42 am

    A common one in Dutch is 'bedoeling' in stead of 'bedoening'. 'Bedoening' is one of those words of which very few people know the true meaning. It's root verb 'bedoen' (to provide) is practically never used anymore. Nowadays 'bedoening' is usually taken to mean 'situation' and rarely used without a verb: something can be a 'drukke bedoening' (busy situation) or a 'saaie bedoening' (boring situation) or just a 'hele bedoening' (a whole situation/a whole thing). Because the word is virtually unknown outside of this context, some people say 'bedoeling', which means 'intention'. Doesn't really make sense to me, but it's common enough.

  56. Alex said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 8:08 am

    Don't know any other languages well but Wiktionary has a list of a few Japanese eggcorns. Some of them are even of English phrases (like "tax heaven" for "tax haven" or "tea pack" for "tea bag")

  57. Konstantin said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 9:35 am

    I don't believe there is much leeway for eggcorns in Russian, however there are cases of mondegreen and intentional wordplay. And there is a phrase "скрепя сердце" ([skrʲɪˈpʲa ˈsʲert͡sə], meaning "reluctantly", or, literally, "having strengthened one's heart"). More and more often I see "скрипя сердцем" ([skrʲɪˈpʲa ˈsʲert͡sɨm], literally "creaking with one's heart/gritting one's heart") instead. The reason for that is that there is a similar phrase "скрипя зубами" (literally "gritting one's teeth"), so some people jokingly or unintentionally mix these two phrases and grit or grind their heart instead of the teeth while they should strengthen their heart instead.

  58. Michael said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 10:16 am

    I have often heard "flush it out" uttered in conversation instead of "flesh it out." I am not sure whether this is simply a mispronunciation of the word "flesh," but to "flush it out" could mean to extract thoroughly, which is similar to the meaning of "flesh it out."

  59. Janice said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 10:19 am

    Today, I have learned that I've been using a wrong word. I thought it was 'Pfandfrage', but the right word is 'Fangfrage'.
    A 'Fangfrage' is a special type of rhetorical question; the morpheme 'Fang' means 'to catch', whereas 'Pfand' refers to a deposit system in order to entice people to return something. So I thought that it was a play on the expected reply, which was returned to the speaker.
    At least I'm not the only one. After googling it, I found other people asking about it.

  60. Tatyana said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 11:20 am

    Here are two examples from Bulgarian:

    1. The correct word for "chandelier" is "полилей" [polilei] coming from the Greek word "πολυέλαιος" – "πολύς" (many) + "έλαιο" (oil), meaning with many oil lamps. A lot of people use the eggcorn "полюлей" [poljulei], which comes from the Bulgarian verb "люлея" [ljuleja] (to swing) – with prefix "по-" [po] meaning "for a short time" or "from time to time" because chandeliers tend to swing. The wrong form is so popular that it is easy to find оn many web sites selling these.

    2. The correct word for "hair dryer" is "сешоар" [seʃoar] from French "sécher". However it is commonly called "сушоар" [suʃoar] from the Bulgarian verb "суша" [suʃa] (to dry), because, well, it makes more sense.

  61. JK Smith said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 12:18 pm

    An older man, somewhat hard of hearing, was overheard loudly whispering to the Doctor's office receptionist "I'm here about my Phosphate Gland"

  62. Jukka-Pekka Vehkala said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 1:23 pm

    I can't think of even one eggcorn in Finnish language. Song lyrics absolutely gets heard wrong. I think Finnish is so young language that it hasn't had too much time to alter and especially it is spelled so exactly as it is written that eggcorns don't appear so often.

  63. Tor said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 1:24 pm

    I found a folk etymology for you in German, "Mutterseelenallein". Apparently came from a misheard French phrase. Not quite an eggcorn, but interesting, nonetheless.

  64. Dennis said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 2:23 pm

    My wife has a few fun german eggcorns that she knew this way since her childhood:
    Loch und Löcher (noch und nöcher)
    Mausecode (Morsecode)
    Etwas für den hohen Zahn ([…] hohlen Zahn)

  65. Kayli said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 5:26 pm

    I happen to know these ones in Dutch:
    There is "Überhout" instead of "Überhaupt". It's borrowed from German, and "haupt" isn't a word in Dutch, while "hout" is, so it makes about as much sense as the alternative.
    I think I've also heard "een stukje laten vallen" (drop a piece), whereas the correct version is "een steekje laten vallen" (drop a stitch). Unless you know knitting terminology, the former probably sounds more sensible.

  66. bossrat said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 6:31 pm

    When one falls over, in British English, one may be said to “fall arse over tip,” not “arse over tit.”

  67. Kent said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 8:54 pm

    I went to school for a year in France. When I first arrived, my speaking skills were lousy. No doubt this prompted my new schoolmates to teach me a funny eggcorn about speaking French, which I used in conversation often thereafter. It usually got a smile or a chuckle. “Je parle la langue comme une vache Espagnole” means “I speak the language like a Spanish cow.” The *actual* saying is “Je parle la langue comme un Basque Espagnole” which means “I speak the language like a Spanish Basque”, a reference to the people of the Basque region located between France and Spain.

  68. AntC said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 11:13 pm

    @minirop One quite spread eggcorn in French is "quand même" ("anyway", "still", etc.) is written as "comme même" (litterally "as same")

    Wow, thank you. I (an Engl speaker) have always thought 'Comme même' was the form — though I've probably never seen it written down.

    Result of British schooling which didn't teach any useful phrases like that, so I picked up colloquial French by ear in actual France.

  69. CrisCrispy said,

    June 25, 2023 @ 11:29 pm

    I thought it was “mind bottled”, not “mind boggled”

  70. AntC said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 2:02 am

    Hmm I'm not sure I'm getting @minirop's distinction.

    I've only heard the phrase(s) as a filler/connective/ which case either meaning could apply. Is there a phonetic difference in rapid/informal speech?

    IOW is minirop sure people are saying/writing one but meaning the other?

  71. Gijs Doorenbos said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 4:19 am

    The Dutch Taalvoutjes website collects eggcorns but also includes apparently jocular variations, mondegreens, phonetic writing and accidents of spelling. There does not seem to be any usage statistics. There are several Taalvoutjes books and other publications with collected instances.
    A few examples from this and other sources:
    Harrie covers for haricots verts
    Schotse Nero's for schorseneren (Scottish Neros / black salsify)
    dikkepeerzaag for decoupeerzaag (thick pear saw / jigsaw)
    in Como liggen for in coma liggen (lie in Como / in a coma)
    observerend (keukenpapier) for absorberend (observing / absorbing paper towel)
    kwakkamole for guacamole (kwak ~ goop, glob, blob)

  72. Gregor Shapiro said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 5:18 am

    The Swedes may have an egg corn or a malapropism in their translation of Aesops Fable "The Fox and the Grapes" where a fox cannot reach grapes and dismisses the effort "as they are sour anyway" (grapes on the vine when ripe, and even at other times are not very sour).
    In Swedish the fable reads "Surt sa räven om rönnbär" [Translates to English as "Sour said the fox of the rowen berries"]. Rowen (Mountan Ash) [Sorbus aucuparia] fruits are always sour, some slight increase in sugars can be achieved by freezing. They miss the point altogether! Should this be called a malapropism?
    Even Wikipedia [] notes that "In Finland and Sweden the sour grapes has been replaced with sour rowans…" they explain this by "… since grapes are not common so far north." Which I believe is not quite the issue, table grapes have been available, though not grown widely, in Scandinavia for several centuries.

  73. J Hemp said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 7:10 am

    Not sure if this qualifies, but it's from Irish:

    "Níl aon tóin tinn mar do thóin tinn féin" being mistaken for l "Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin"

    The first meaning "There's no sore arse like your own sore arse"
    and the second meaning "there's no fireside like your own fireside"

  74. Ines said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 8:13 am

    I'm from Germany and I teach German at a highschool. My favourite eggcorn ever comes (of course) from a student's essay: One girl misspelled "Missverständnis" (misunderstanding, with the "Miss" meaning "wrong / faulty", same as in the English word). Instead she wrote "Mistverständnis" ("crappy / shitty understanding").

    Another one would be a misspelling of "zu guter Letzt", which means "last, but not least", but literally you could translate it as "as a good last (item / person / …)". One student wrote this phase as "zu gut da Letzt", which doesn't make a lot of sense, but you could interpret it as "too good because it's the last".

  75. Javier said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 9:02 am

    Another one from Spanish is "cajón desastre" (messy drawer) to refer to something heterogenous and chaotic instead of the original "cajón de sastre" (tailor drawer).

  76. Paolo Messina said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 9:17 am

    I think a typical Italian eggcorn I heard many times is "idea malsana" in place of "idea balzana". Nobody actually knows the meaning of "balzana", but the phrase is often used to mean someone has come up with a crazy, stupid, or just bad idea, and so "malsana" (unhealthy) just makes sense or even more sense than the original.
    By the way "balzana" means odd, fancy or absurd, and it also makes perfect sense but nobody knows that word and just replaced it with a common word, very similar sounding, that has the nearest meaning.
    I guess it fits the "eggcorn" definition perfectly.

  77. lichansan said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 9:52 am

    A German egg corn would be Mann/man. But this might not be an egg corn, but something else.
    They originate afaik from the same word and now have different meanings. Mann is the English man, and man would probably be more like someone/somebody, one, or people. Its a very generic word.

    They are sometimes used accidentally wrong, but this can also just be a simple mistake.

    And sometimes on purpose:
    1>Man kann mal wieder den Müll rausbringen.
    2> Ja, Mann kann mal wieder den Müll rausbringen.

  78. Jörn said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 10:38 am

    Ok, I hope I did not miss anyone posting these before, some more examples from German:
    Torschlusspanik -> Torschusspanik
    The original concept refers to being late to work and ending up locked out in front of the closed gate. The eggcorn version makes it about soccer – the lone player about to score a goal getting nervous and thus missing the shot.
    Schrebergärten -> Strebergärten
    Schrebergärten are plots of land in a community garden, named after 19th-century doctor Moritz Schreber, who ironically never had anything to do with social gardening himself. Instead he pioneered clubs for physical exercise. After his death, an early community garden was named after him, because of its location in a square named after him.
    The eggcorn replaces his name with the word Streber, which translates to "teacher's pet" – probably the connection here is that Schrebergärten tend to be very well-maintained, following strict rules, like a teacher's pet would do in class.

  79. Aron de Carvalho said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 6:25 pm

    For Brazilian Portuguese, very apocryphal, don’t know which is correct:

    “HOJE É DOMINGO, PÉ DE CACHIMBO.., e eu ficava imaginando como seria um pé de cachimbo, quando o correto é: HOJE É DOMINGO, PEDE CACHIMBO… (fumar um cachimbo)
    E tem o PÉ-DE-MOLEQUE… A mulher fazia o doce caramelizado de amendoim e punha pra esfriar na janela. A molecada roubava… então ela gritava: NÃO PRECISA ROUBAR! PEDE, MOLEQUE!…
    E a gente pensa que repete corretamente os "ditos populares".
    No popular se diz: Esse menino não para quieto, parece que tem bichocarpinteiro. Minha grande dúvida na infância…. Mas que bicho é esse que é carpinteiro, um bicho pode ser carpinteiro???"
    Correto: Esse menino não para quieto, parece que tem bicho no corpo inteiro. "Tá aí a resposta para meu dilema de infância!"
    Batatinha quando nasce, esparrama pelo chão.
    Enquanto o correto é: Batatinha quando nasce, espalha a rama pelo chão. "Se a batata é um caule subterrâneo, ou seja, nasce enterrada, como ela se esparramaria pelo chão se ela está embaixo dele?"
    Cor de burro quando foge. O correto é: Corro de burro quando foge. Esse foi o pior de todos!
    Burro muda de cor quando foge??? Qual cor ele fica??? Porque ele mudaria de cor???"
    Outro que no popular todo mundo erra: Quem tem boca vai a Roma.
    Bom, esse eu entendia, de um modo errado, mas entendia! Pensava que quem sabia se comunicar ia a qualquer lugar…
    O correto é: Quem tem boca vaia Roma. (Isso mesmo, do verbo vaiar).
    Outro que todo mundo diz errado, Cuspido e escarrado – quando alguém quer dizer que é muito parecido com outra pessoa.
    O correto é: Esculpido em Carrara. (Carrara é um tipo de mármore)
    Mais um famoso: Quem não tem cão, caça com gato
    Entendia também, errado, mas entendia! Se não tem o cão para ajudar na caça o gato ajuda! Tudo bem que o gato só faz o que quer, mas vai que o bicho tá de bom humor…
    O correto é: Quem não tem cão, caça como gato, ou seja, sozinho…”

  80. Joakim Högfelt said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 6:32 pm

    Here’s a folk etymology example of Folk etymology, that might be of interest because of relatability to English.

    The word for “Elbow” was once ‘Alnbåge’. An “ell” used to be a standard unit of measurement, but because of the meter system, that word fell out of everyday use.

    ‘Alnbåge’ is kind of clunky to pronounce, and the quality of the l+n became reduced in value due to being followed by another consonant. The now increasingly unfamiliar “ell” became associated with the instead very frequent “arm”, where the elbow is located, and people started saying “Armbåge”.

    So much to the extent that “Armbåge” is now the correct word, whereas “Alnbåge” is forgotten, and no longer a correct Swedish word.

    Therefore an “Elbow” has become an “Armbow”, and this shift in meaning is completely unknown to the vast majority of contemporary Swedes.

  81. Max said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 6:58 pm

    In Danish when something is very wrong or upsetting:
    Verden er af lave -> Verden er af lava

    The former meaning "the world being out of sorts".
    "Lave" roughly means "made" or "the right way" / "af lave" means "off the right way".

    The latter means "the world is of lava".
    Liquid magma would indeed be upsetting.

  82. Drew said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 10:06 pm

    My brother for the longest time thought that the correct term was mute point instead of moot point

  83. Bob said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 10:13 pm

    You might enjoy Rickyisms, from the Canadian TV show 'Trailer Park Boys'.

  84. Geri Monsen said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 11:19 pm

    "Coming down the pipe" versus "Coming down the pike"

    "Chomping at the bit" versus "Champing at the bit"

  85. Mitch said,

    June 26, 2023 @ 11:21 pm

    Just watched RobWords eggcorns video on Youtube.

    The funniest one I ever heard misspoken was, "kick a gift horse in the mouth".

    Also, as a child, I used to say, "hairy canary".

  86. Thomas Gilsfeldt said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 2:37 am

    In Danish the term "a grain of salt" ("et gran salt") is often transformed into "a gram of salt" ("et gram salt"), which also makes sense.

  87. tobias köhler said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 6:43 am

    German: The actual saying is "Ehrlich währt am längsten" (Honesty lasts longest).
    I always used "Ewig währt am längsten" (Eternity lasts longest) until somebody pointed out hte difference to me.
    I thought it was my own original eggcorn until I found out that German Dada artist Kurt Schwitters had used this phrase many years before me.

  88. tobias köhler said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 6:48 am

    Since "mutterseelenallein" was mentioned, here is a video by German translator Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel about its origin: It might be a French combination of "moi tout seul allein" (me all alone alone):

  89. Eddie said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 7:17 am

    I’m originally from Texas. Moved to North Carolina 13 years ago. People here say Free Range or Free Rain, instead of Free Reign, or Free Rein.

  90. Adriaan Pretorius said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 9:03 am

    In Afrikaans there are some that seem to just be learned word-of-mouth from parents to children. The phrase 'more than enough' in Afrikaans is 'meer as genoeg', but some would say 'oor as genoeg', which means 'over than enough'. We also have an archaic saying 'desnieteenstaande', meaning 'nevertheless' or directly translated as 'it's not against standing', but some would say 'niedesteenstaande' translated as 'not this is against standing'. A bit of a stretch?

  91. Tomasz Piątkowski said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 9:44 am

    Being a native speaker of Polish, I can offer two examples.

    The first one is relatively simple. There is a religious Christmas carol that speaks of Mary thusly:
    "Bo uboga była, rąbek z głowy zdjęła, którym Dziecię owinąwszy siankiem Je okryła." (As she was poor, she removed her headscarf, wrapped the Child and covered Him with hay).
    "uboga" pron. oobogah = "poor, destitute", but it also sounds exactly like "u Boga" pron. oo Bogah = "at God's place, in God's house". A small child will not necessarily have the concept of poverty or wealth, but they will understand that parents either visit their friends, or have friends come over, giving credence to the second (and wrong) reading. Mary visited God's place, and then she came back to the manger, removed the headscarf and wrapped Baby Jesus.

    Another eggcorn is quite common, but requires a bit more explanation. There is a phrase "mieć coś na tapecie", literally "to have something on the wallpaper*", or figuratively, to have something on the agenda. The problem is, this common reading is wrong. "Tapecie" pron. taPETchye, is the grammatical locative case of both "tapeta" (feminine gender, common word for wallpaper), and "tapet" (masculine gender, archaic German loanword for a table covered with green cloth to hold meetings at). Consequently, because the second meaning – tapet (table) – is never used except in this phrase, speakers coin phrases like "wziąć coś na tapetę" (put something on the wallpaper*) instead of "wziąć coś na tapet" (put something on the table/on the agenda/in the spotlight). This kind of makes sense, as wallpapers with striking patterns or elaborate images are relatively common (if out of fashion), that the idea of "drawing attention to a thing by putting it on the wallpaper" intuitively makes sense.

  92. Emre said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 9:46 am

    Here's one from Turkish. The word for wardrobe/armoire is "gardırop," which is a transliteration of the French garde-robe (clothes protector). Many Turkish speakers instead say "gardolap" which mixes the French word gare (depot) and the Turkish word dolap (closet), which also seems to make sense. An armoire can be seen as a "storage closet."

  93. RK said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 10:12 am

    One that comes to mind in Mandarin is the religious-mythological term 三昧真火 (sān mèi zhēn huǒ), literally "three-[something] true fire". The character 昧 is archaic, meaning "to conceal" or "dark". It's written and pronounced quite similarly to 味 (wèi) 'taste; measure word for dishes' [1], and so a common eggcorn is for some people to use that morpheme here instead of the archaic.

    The phrase itself was an example of folk etymology. 三昧 (sān mèi) never meant three anything, because it was a phonetic rendering of Sanskrit samādhi, which is a sort of meditation, but the word was interpreted to mean three + some unit of measurement in later writings. The term 三昧真火 thus refers to three types of fire or heat in a Taoist context.

    The eggcorn tries to make sense of the unknown measure word by replacing it with one that is familiar.

    [1]: Mandarin had a historical sound shift where m > v > w in some environments, obscuring that the two characters used to sound even more similar.

  94. Joan Varga said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 10:16 am

    Look up "buck wild etymology" (if you look up buck wild, you'll get a cartoon character) and you'll understand, "buck naked". Indigenous males in the New World were often called, "bucks," as they seemed quite feral and wild to European eyes. Yes, it is a racist term. That's why butt-naked serves for the purpose much more nicely.

  95. RK said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 10:24 am

    Another example of folk etymology from Sinitic is the word for 'erroneous character', 白字 (bái zì). This appeared to have been a historical eggcorn for 別字 (bié zì) [1]. 白 (something like *bak in Middle Chinese) means 'white; clear; vernacular'. 別 (something like *biɛt in MC) means 'to distinguish, to separate; other'.

    [1]: per this 1700's source:

  96. Joey H said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 10:45 am

    An Eggcorn I've noticed popping up online recently is "Chester Drawers" instead of "Chest of Drawers" – This has been corrupted so much that I've even seen "Chester Dresser" on a few posts.

  97. William said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 10:58 am

    I teach at an elementary school and am continuously humored when children tell me they ate pizza at "Chunky Cheese" or attended a birthday party at "Chunky Cheese." Of course, they are referring to the local "Chuck E. Cheese" restaurant and family entertainment center.

  98. Cory D. said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 11:24 am

    Working at a deli as a young man, I had a manager that could not pronounce the word mayonnaise. instead she would say “man eggs”. To which I would always respond “But Janice men don’t lay eggs”.

  99. CDH said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 11:40 am

    I knew a woman who couldn’t ride in elevators because she was close to phobic.

  100. Misty said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 12:18 pm

    I’m coming here from the YouTube video about Egghirns. Here was my comment:

    So I get that these don’t necessarily indicate intelligence but surely education.

    I’m wondering what other explanation there would be for me having never used any of these “wrong“. (To be fair I’ve never heard the saying ’damp squib’”). And I’m in Alabama – born and raised so to speak.

    I do hear “butt naked” from time to time but I’ve never said it. Most of the rest make me wonder how do so many people get them wrong?? Is it age? Maybe being in my 50s mean I lived closer to the time they came about so I’m more likely to have heard it in the original?

  101. David M. said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 12:47 pm

    Something from Hungarian. The word for "reef" is, in Hungarian, "zátony". I always thought it was "záRtony", with an R in the middle. Why? Because "zár" means to close or lock, such as how a reef locks a ship in its place as it gets stranded. I actually learned that I was using this word incorrectly only a couple of years ago, well over the age of 30.

  102. Galad said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 2:02 pm

    In ancient Greek "πρασσειν αλλογα" meant "acting irrationally" and still in use today, but in modern Greek some people often say things like when they hear something they figure does not make sense or a word that does not seem to belong in a phrase justified by context they say "τι ****** και πράσινα άλογα" = "what ****** and green horses" (where ****** is a placeholder/stand-in for the word they could not get) because it is homophone to the ancient term .

  103. Wolfgang Reichl said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 2:10 pm

    does anyone know which of the two is the original:
    hell or high water
    hail or high water
    Meteorologically hail would make more sense, then again hell being euphemized to hail would make more sense than the other direction.
    Thank you!

  104. Véro said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 3:07 pm

    In French, a common one is :

    "Découvrir le poteau rose" (finding out the pink pole) instead of the right "Découvrir le pot aux roses" (finding out the pot of roses".
    Which means finding out a secret / something hidden.

    The story goes that lovers exchanged love letters by putting them under their beloved's pots of roses. By lifting the pot, husbands/wifes could discover the infidelity of their spouse, the "pot of roses".

  105. Erika said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 4:22 pm

    A personal Norwegian eggcorn would be misinterpreting "ståkuk" ("stand-cock", i.e. "an erection") as "stålkuk" (lit. "steel cock"). Perhaps taboo words are more prone to eggcorns due to their nature!

    Another good and common Norwegian eggcorn is "forhåndsregel" (lit. "forehand rule", as in "beforehand") to mean "a preparatory step (e.g. to prevent an accident)". The correct word is "forholdsregel", whose literal translation is closer to "rule of conduct".

    And there are of course plenty more Norwegian eggcorns to be found. Perhaps I'll share some others a different time!

  106. Lucille said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 6:01 pm

    In French, I once came across "perdre les os" (bones breaking) instead of "perdre les eaux" (water breaking). Both versions sound exactly the same, with "os" (bones) and "eaux" (waters) being both pronounced \o\. I guess people who don’t know much about the mechanisms of labour could easily make this mistake, although one sounds much more painful than the other!

  107. Jack said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 8:33 pm

    I would use the phrase "Loop Bag" for the small bag of toys / gifts you would give your friends when they came to your birthday party, instead of "Loot bag"

  108. Tim said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 8:36 pm

    A video I watched recently had a German example.
    There are two types of coal. In English these are hard or soft (or black and brown). In German they're stone or brown, so that's steinkohle and braunkohle. The eggcorn is to hear it as baumkohle, which would be tree coal. It's plausible, since coal is a natural resource made of biomass, which could indeed be specifically tree-based in origin.

  109. Quinn said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 8:55 pm

    The one I am aware of is the 'Glycerine' from:

    Album: Sixteen Stone
    Artist: Bush
    Released: 1994
    Genres: Alternative/Indie, Rock

    was misheard as 'Kiss the Rain', from which we got a few years later:

    Album: Growing, Pains
    Artist: Billie Myers
    Released: 1997
    Genres: Spoken Word, Pop, Arabic Hip Hop, Japanese Hip Hop/Rap, Hip-Hop/Rap, Levant Rap, J-Pop, Rap Québ

  110. Carlos Marx said,

    June 27, 2023 @ 9:05 pm

    In Brazilian Portuguese, we have a saying:

    "Dois sentidos não assimilam"

    Meaning, we cannot pay attention very well at more than one thing at a time.

    Then, we came up with the phrase:

    "Dois sentidos não assam milho"

    Which means that, if we try to pay attention to anything else while roasting corn, the corn will most certainly burn.

  111. Amaury Canales said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 2:23 am

    In spanish we have a saying that can be traced back to the book of "Don Quijote"

    "Los duelos, con pan, son menos"

    Grief, with bread, is less

    But famous mexican actor "Pedro Infante" said what is pretty much an eggcorn and made it into a song/made it more popular.

    "Las penas, con pan, son buenas"

    Sorrows, with bread, are good/taste good

    Took me a while to figure out which one was the egg and which one was the chicken on that one.

  112. Vach Vojtěch said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 3:39 am

    I am a native czech speaker and until around 17 years of age I've been saying "rodinný mluvčí" translated into "family speaker" instead of "rodilý mluvčí" roughly translated into "born speaker" but the actual translation is just "native speaker".
    It made so much sense to me because a native speaker is someone speaking the language of their family, hence the eggcorn rodinný mluvčí.

  113. David Pratt said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 5:39 am

    Here is one for you: "SPITTIN' IMAGE" ! It is actually from the phrase "spirit and image". I suspect "spirit and" got corrupted to "spittin'" because if you are a Southerner, the words "spirit and" will sound like "spirit" to a Northerner.

  114. Robin Bohlin said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 7:28 am

    I have one that I would think is an eggcorn in Swedish.
    I myself thought for my whole young life that the "wrong" way was the "right" way.

    We have the word Citationstecken which literary means quote marks or quote signs (commonly known as air quotes), but there is a lot of the Swedish population (at least on the west coast) who even as adults uses the word Situationstecken which instead means situational marks or situational signs.

    Since a lot of people use the "fingerbunnies" to point out specific things or situations instead of just directly quoting someone I can easily understand the confusion
    They also of course sound very similar when said out loud.

    Interestingly enough I actually learned that it was called citationstecken just because I thought about the English word for it and thru the translation I learned something about my own language :)

  115. Miriam Alexander said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 8:25 am

    I grew up using two in my native language (German) for the longest time: "Torschusspanik" for "Torschlusspanik", resulting in me picturing the panic someone might go through right before attempting to score in soccer instead of the kind people experience before a gate closes in front of them (in English this would be last minute panic).
    Another would be "Spätsünder" for "Spätzünder" (I thought it was "late sinner" instead of "late igniter," meaning late bloome

  116. Eduardo Serra said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 8:33 am

    Hi, here's a portuguese eggcorn:

    "Mal e porcamente" for "mal e parcamente", meaning "something that is done poorly" (literally, "badly and pig-like/of slender means"). Because the adjective "parco" ("sparse" or "poor") is not common, it is replaced by "porco" ("pig") for many portuguese speakers.

  117. David said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 8:59 am

    We all know to check our rear view mirrors when driving a car. As I was teaching my daughter to drive, it was a strange thing when I heard her referring to the mirror as what I believed she had said was a "revision mirror". I asked what they called it and confirmed. A revision mirror is there because see what you have already passed – obviously.
    It was not until a few years later, that I discovered that my wife was calling it he same thing. Strangely enough, I had never picked up on it, but she apparently had always called it that and I had never picked up on that.

  118. Matias said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 12:59 pm

    Here's one in Swedish:
    For a long time I heard the word såpbubbla (soap bubble) as sovbubbla (sleep bubble).

  119. William Tordella said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 1:19 pm

    “The cut of your jig,” vs. “The cut of your jib.”

  120. Michael Ratkewitz said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 3:27 pm

    I know some eggcorns in Russian. Malapropisms, mondegreens as well. This has proven to be quite an interesting topic to me

  121. Greg said,

    June 28, 2023 @ 6:39 pm

    Safety deposit box rather than the correct safe deposit box.

  122. Jack said,

    June 29, 2023 @ 2:09 am

    So, not 100% sure this counts but in this video there's an example of a German mishearing 'braunkohle' (brown coal) as 'baumkohle' (tree coal) and assuming it was coal/charcoal that had made from trees.

  123. Lisa said,

    June 29, 2023 @ 2:30 am

    Eggcorn or Mondegreen?
    When discussing the idea of clarifying a point or adding details to a topic, many people say “Let’s flush out this idea.” Versus the intended statement “let’s flesh out this idea.”

  124. Robert G said,

    June 29, 2023 @ 2:52 pm

    I've seen in description of a psuedo-argument the phrase "ad homonym" rather than the Latin "ad hominem."

  125. Naomi van Dijck said,

    June 30, 2023 @ 2:37 am

    The Dutch love their proverbs, especially of the nautical type… my British partner is a bit overwhelmed (ha) of how many things are said in those terms.

    The phrase “poolshoogte nemen” is often said (and written!) as “polshoogte nemen”.

    The first reffering to measuring the depth of the water using a large pole (same origin). The phrase itself means to (double) check something. But in Dutch the word ‘pool’ is obsolete and is now ‘paal’, nor do people often measure the depth of the waters using a stick. so people mistake it for ‘pols’ (Dutch for wrist). It’s more logical in daily life that you measure the height of something using your arms and hands. (Like measuring the height of your children against the door post)

  126. Naomi van Dijck said,

    June 30, 2023 @ 2:57 am

    Wait no actually! I think ‘poolshoogte’ actually comes from measuring your latitude! I just remembered.
    Haha! So confusing, I use the wrong explanation to remember the right word.

  127. Charles Gooss said,

    June 30, 2023 @ 3:25 am

    Today, I heard a person in West Virginia say "PDSD" and "post-dramatic stress syndrome" instead of PTSD and post-traumatic stress syndrome. It makes sense, right?

  128. Simon said,

    June 30, 2023 @ 10:44 am

    Hi, and thanks for the interesting information. I'd like to contribute to the list of eggcorns in other languages, mine being French. Here are a few French eggcorns (I think you'd call them that) that I know of:

    – For many years I used the phrase "sans dessus dessous" to indicate an area (usually a room) that is very messy or was left very messy (due to a burglary, agitated people, of for outdoor places the weather, etc.). This way of saying the phrase litterally translate to "without over under", i.e. with no top or bottom. Makes sense if everything is messy or upside-down. However the original phrase is apparently "cen dessus dessous" (what is on top, under), which through the ages became "sens dessus dessous" because "cen" isn't used anymore. But this "correct" way doesn't make any sense, nor is it actually pronounced like that (with "sens" you're supposed to pronounce the second s, but not with "sans" which is how the phrase is pronounced).

    – Maybe not an eggcorn: "faire long feu" ("to make long fire") is a phrase meaning "to fail" (like a joke that didn't take: "sa blague a fait long feu"). It apparently has a background in old pistols, where if the fuse burnt for a long time it meant the powder didn't detonate and the gun didn't fire. However a lot of people use it in the negative form to mean a situation which hasn't lasted long. For example, if someone leaves their new employer quickly after getting the job, you'd say "il n'a pas fait long feu à ce poste".

    – "Au temps pour moi" has already been mentioned in another comment, but it's a classic.

  129. Mee said,

    June 30, 2023 @ 4:42 pm

    What about how A Norange became An Orange?
    Yes, there's no such fruit or colour as Orange. It's, Norange.
    Due to English being the way it is, a norange, is pronounced exactly the same way as, an orange, and so it was easy to mishear and miswrite it into what we have today.
    Much like, and per se and, became, ampersand. Or how Ayes, became ah yes.

  130. Steve O'Brien said,

    June 30, 2023 @ 7:10 pm

    My favorite is I worked with a guy who always referred to something as a 'mute point' instead of moot. I thought it was funny and always replied, "yeah, let's not talk about it'!!

  131. Joshua Honeycutt said,

    July 1, 2023 @ 2:01 am

    An interesting one in Italian is ‘piantare in asso’ which come from the original ‘piantare in Nasso’ and refers to Theseus leaving Ariadne behind on Naxus. There is discussion regarding the fact the truth behind this proposed corruption, just to be complete!

  132. Giuseppe said,

    July 1, 2023 @ 3:57 am

    In Italian, scapegoat is "capro espiatorio", with capro being the goat. I've heard a lot of people say "capo espiatorio", with "capo" being an "item" in this context.

  133. Sarah said,

    July 1, 2023 @ 9:23 am

    Hello Prof. Liberman.
    I came here after watching your interview with robwords and want to contribute some possible eggcorns from the German language, hoping you haven't heard them before.

    In Germany there are some common eggcorns that get more and more use. Like "Mund-zu-Mund-Propaganda", which portmantoed two diffrent things "Mund-zu-Mund-Beatmung" (mouth to mouth resuscitation) and "Mund-Propaganda" (mouth propaganda). It seems to make sense, but actually it doesn't (I mean, it should be "Mund-zu-Ohr", mouth-to-ear, if anything). I feel that I need to know at least a handful more of those, but they won't come to me right now. Ah, yeah:
    "Das Pferd von hinten aufrollen" (to roll a horse up from behind): From "Das Pferd von hinten aufzäumen" (to bridle a horse from behind) and "aufrollen" (to investigate). Originally meaning to start work from the wrong end.
    "Eine Sau durch's Dorf tragen" (to carry a sow through the village): From "Eine Sau durch's Dorf treiben" (to drive a sow through the village", meaning to aggressivly attract attention to something minor) and "Eulen nach Athen tragen" (to carry owls to Athens, meaning to do something superfluous).
    "Den Teufel an die Wand werfen" (to throw the devil onto or against the wall), from "Den Teufel an die Wand malen" (To paint the devil on the wall, meaning to expect the worst in a situation) and propaply "an die Wand werfen" (to project, as in projecting an image)
    "Der Wurf mit dem Zaunpfahl" (throw of the fence post"), from "Der Wink mit dem Zaunpfahl" (hint with the fence post). Not to confuse with "Wink mit dem Zaun" (hint with the fence), which just strengthens the expression. Used to make fun of someone who doesn't understand an extremly clear hint.
    "Da streiten sich die Geister" (the spirits are arguing), from "Da scheiden sich die Geister" (the spirits are parting), meaning tow people have opposite opinions.
    And the one I always get wrong: "Aus dem Stehgreif" (out of the standing grip – yeah, this makes no sense), from "Aus dem Stegreif" (out of the stirrup), meaning spontanously.

    What about things that start out as folk etymology or egcorns, but than become more and more widespread and correct, especially with proverbs? There is a lot evolving here in the recent decades and some things are well known false sayings, but people use them nontheless and everyone understands. Or like with the fence post – fence thing?

  134. Amy said,

    July 1, 2023 @ 12:33 pm

    I was probably 16 and on a date when the Rollings Stones song "Beast of Burden" began to play. I began belting out the lyrics. To my horror, my date laughed and asked emphatically "what did you just say!?" I had always heard "big Suburban". As in the very large Chevrolet vehicle. It made so much sense! It's cumbersome and difficult to manage. "I'll never be your big Suburban" :)

  135. ospalh said,

    July 2, 2023 @ 2:44 am

    I thought it was »abgekatertes Spiel«, tomcatted-off game, instead of »abgekartetes Spiel«, carded-off game.
    It is a ploy, some trick with people colluding.
    Maybe I thought of the Katze im Sack (cat instead of a pig in a poke).

  136. Stusstrupp said,

    July 2, 2023 @ 1:32 pm

    For German examples,
    Stegreif (Impromptu) -> Stehgreif
    has already been mentioned. I would add
    Albtraum (nightmare) -> Alptraum
    Rückgrat (Backbone) -> Rückrad

  137. Erik Boy said,

    July 2, 2023 @ 2:06 pm

    In Norwegian we have a example.
    Klar som et egg.(eggcorn) Meaning ready as an egg
    Klar som en egg.(original) Meaning ready as i knives edge
    Ether way it means you are ready for something.

  138. Allyson said,

    July 2, 2023 @ 6:07 pm

    Some gems I’ve come across while editing:

    “Flash forward” used, instead of “Fast forward.”
    “Virtual signaling” used, instead of “Virtue signaling.”
    “Christ my saver” used, instead of “Christ my savior.”
    “Way laid” used, instead of “Waylaid,”

  139. Kira said,

    July 3, 2023 @ 2:30 am

    coming from the robwords video…

    Not sure if this qualifies but in German people say „nichtsdestotrotz“ instead of „nichtsdestoweniger“…

  140. Kim said,

    July 3, 2023 @ 3:38 pm

    I had a friend who was fond of saying something was a big wrassle. I was never quite sure if she meant wrestle or hassle.

  141. rich said,

    July 6, 2023 @ 10:50 am

    Some Brooklynisms:

    goldie for goalie
    bunking into someone rather than bumping into
    and my favorite
    he who laugh laugh laugh laugh(he who laughs last laughs best)

  142. Suzanne said,

    July 7, 2023 @ 1:32 am

    Preying Mantis instead of Praying Mantis.
    The song “Gladly, the Cross I’d Bear” that children think is “Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear”

  143. Victor Mair said,

    July 7, 2023 @ 4:15 am


    Praying, preying — would you be able to tell the difference when spoken?

  144. richard said,

    July 9, 2023 @ 6:30 am

    Hi there,

    I have a German/French example: When the Huguenots had to leave France in the late 17th century, Prussia allowed many of them to settle in Berlin. Quite smart decision, because many of them had a higher eductation, like doctors. In the coming years naturally some French phrases made it into the local parlance. The one example I remember (I had this in school many years ago) which looks like an egg corn and derived from medical: "mort aussi", which translate to already dead or dead on site. I'm fuzzy on the right French wording! But in Berlin they made the egg corn "mausetot" which translates to dead like a mouse. There you have it. – There are a few more examples from this era and I believe mausetot is not the only one that could be considered an egg corn. Berliners are playfull with language. – I haven't remember plain German ones, but I know there are a few. This is maybe by definition, that they are hard to catch, because their occurrences need to be uncommon. I'll be back when I found something. All the best! richard

  145. Inga said,

    July 10, 2023 @ 6:12 am

    I have another german example:
    The correct version (in my opinion) is "Langsam nährt sich das Eichhörnchen" which translates to "the squirrel feeds itself slowly", "nährt" from "ernähren"=to feed oneself. One would say this to express that something is getting done very slowly one bit at a time, often used when you were expecting it to go faster. Like saying 'It will all get done eventually'.
    I remember having an aha-moment when realizing that it wasn't "Langsam nähert sich das Eichhörnchen" (" the squirrel slowly comes closer", "nähert" from "sich nähern"=to come closer), which of course expresses the same notion of something taking its merry time.

  146. richard said,

    July 11, 2023 @ 6:06 am

    Hi there, one correction: it is probably not "mort aussi" but "mort subite". – There is another word connected to this era: "Fisimatenten", which sometimes gets egg corned to "Fiesematenten", with "fies" being german for nasty. C.f.

  147. Maël said,

    July 17, 2023 @ 1:50 pm


    I have an example from French: Some people say "ça n'a rien à avoir avec xxxx" (lit. "this has nothing to have with xxxx") instead of "ça n'a rien à voir avec xxxx" (lit. "this has nothing to have with xxxx"). The phrase means "this has nothing to do with xxxx". I think it's because, if you don't already know the expression, the verb "have" feels a bit more logical than the verb "see".

  148. Marcos said,

    July 20, 2023 @ 4:54 am

    There is a famous eggcorn in a children song in Brazilian Portuguese:
    "Batatinha quando nasce, se esparrama pelo chão…"
    This means "When a little potato grows, it gets spread on the ground…". This version uses the verb "esparramar", which means "to spread".
    The actual lyrics says:
    "Batatinha quando nasce, espalha a rama pelo chão…"
    That is, "When a little potato grows, it it spreads its branches on the ground…"
    The correct version uses the verb "espalhar", which also means "to spread", but usually it's not reflexive and means "to spread something".

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