Your Funny Little Eggcorns
Do you use eggcorns too? And if you do, which ones do you use?
Hang on. I better back up a bit and explain what they are. Eggcorns, which sound like acorns (or a serious foot problem) are a lot like mondogreens.
I can hear you saying, “No wait. Now this is really getting confusing.”
Try this then. Eggcorns are misheard words or phrases. While mondogreens are misheard song lyrics.
There. Not that confusing after all.
I love how the word eggcorn is itself an eggcorn for acorn. Clever huh?
And there are heaps of these eggcorns everywhere in the way people speak. Like:
Nipping it in the butt when it’s meant to be nipping it in the bud.
On tender hooks instead of on tenterhooks (because there’s no such thing as a tender hook)
To all intensive purposes instead of to all intents and purposes
Old wise tale rather than old wives’ tale
Off your own back which is an eggcorn for off your own bat
Front in center which is mean to be front and center
I could care less rather than I couldn’t care less
Old timers’ disease which is a kind of innocent twist on Alzheimer’s Disease
People sometimes say it’s a doggy dog world. Only, it’s not and it never was. The expression is dog-eat-dog world, Unlike a doggy world, this one is kind of ruthless and hard.
A damp squid is a funny take on a damp squib
You’re a real card sharp instead of you’re a real card shark
World wind romance sounds more meteorological than whirlwind romance
Give free range sounds more like a declaration against animal cruelty when the actual term is give free rein
Mist of things instead of midst of things just sounds odd
As does a hair’s breath rather than a hair’s breadth
Content with instead of contend with really changes the meaning
Whereas, chomp at the bit rather than champ at the bit still keeps some of the core idea.
It’s hilarious. Many an eggcorn stems from mishearing unfamiliar words. While some just come from having no idea what the point is at all.
Now take a look at these and see which is which:
White as a sheep for white as a sheet
Flush out for flesh out
Last rights when it’s last rites
Stream of conscience for stream of consciousness
Rebel rouser for rabble rouser
Escape goat for scapegoat
Buck naked for butt naked
Expresso for Espresso
Toeing the line instead of towing the line
Wonderlust for wanderlust
Chicken spots instead of chickenpox
Wet your appetite instead of whet your appetite
Daring do for derring do
Optical delusion for optical illusion
Medium strip for median strip
Lesser of two equals for lesser of two evils.
And, which of these words have you heard. Or, if you can admit it, you’ve used to?
Pacific for specific
Mirro for mirror
Disingenuine for disingenuous
Duck tape for duct tape
Cow-tow instead of kowtow
Garbledygook for gobbledygook
Limp instead of lymph (so limp odema, & limp nodes)
Elk for ilk
Dough-eyed for doe-eyed
Pre-Madonna for prima donna
Chester drawers for chest of drawers
Youthamism for euphamism
Mute point for moot point.
That we have so many eggcorns tells you just how complicated English is. Add that to the fact we’ve got well over a million words to play with in the first place. So, it’s hardly surprising we get confused.
Still, if you want to speak the Queen’s English wellerer than them people next to you, better watch out for them eggcorns. Either that or be prepared to have a good, loud and long laugh at yourself.