Of Mondegreens and Eggcorns
I just discovered some new terms I’d never heard before! Mondegreen and eggcorn. Sounds like the title of a sitcom, right? But according to Grammarist.com, mondegreens are misheard versions of phrases, sayings, lyrics, poetic phrases, or slogans. Eggcorn refers to misheard words or phrases that retain their original meaning.
Grammarist.com has a page (http://grammarist.com/mondegreens/) that lists a few examples of eggcorns. (The first phrases in this list are eggcorns; the phrases in parentheses are the correct expressions.)
Abject lesson (object lesson)
All in all (all and all)
Bad wrap (bad rap)
Beckon call (beck and call)
Butt naked (buck naked)
Day in age (day and age)
Far be it for me (far be it from me)
For all intensive purposes (for all intents and purposes)
Hare’s breath (hair’s breadth)
Must of (must’ve)
Neck in neck (neck and neck)
On tenderhooks (on tenterhooks)
One in the same (one and the same)
Road to hoe (row to hoe)
Safety-deposit box (safe-deposit box)
My husband says “all of the sudden” a lot. But the correct phrase is “all of a sudden.” (http://grammarist.com/usage/all-of-a-sudden-or-all-of-the-sudden/) Next time he says that, I may not be able to resist calling him an eggcorn.
Did you know about mondegreens and eggcorns? Or were those new words for you too? I looked them up in my print/CD version of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, but didn’t find either one. So I tried merriam-webster.com. It did have mondegreen. But when I checked for eggcorn, I got this message:
Aren’t you smart – you’ve found a word that is only available in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.
Guess I don’t feel quite so bad about not knowing those words after all. (I would like to tell Ms. Merriam that she punctuated that sentence incorrectly, however.)
What mondegreens or eggcorns have you come across? Please share any you’ve heard, seen, or read. I think I may need to add a section about these in the next edition of my Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. The Grammar section could use a few more pages, don’t you think?
August 22, 2016 @ 11:50 am
I can’t think of any other eggcorns, but my husband, Chas, does a great job of using them in jokes.
Some of them I didn’t know existed. I guess I am old fashioned and am aware of what they really are.
August 22, 2016 @ 12:13 pm
How about “If you think so, you’ve got another thing (should be think) coming”? I was surprised to learn it should be think, though I heard Judi Dench use the phrase correctly on a BBC program recently.
August 22, 2016 @ 12:24 pm
Oh, yes, I hear that one misused a lot. Thanks for bringing it up!
August 29, 2016 @ 3:33 pm
The one I see the most in my editing is “try and” instead of “try to.” For instance, “You should try and see if you can change his mind.” It should be, “You should try to see if you can change his mind.”