I am absolutely delighted to learn that Geoff Pullum’s coinage eggcorn (which I wrote about back in 2004) has made it to the official word-hoard of the English language. There is now a draft entry (Sept. 2010) for eggcorn, n., 1. = ACORN n., 2. An alteration of a word or phrase through the mishearing or reinterpretation of one or more of its elements as a similar-sounding word. In allusion to sense 1, which is an example of such an alteration. Here are the citations:

2003 M. LIBERMAN Egg Corns: Folk Etymol., Malapropism, Mondegreen? (Update) in (Weblog) 30 Sept. (O.E.D. Archive), Geoff Pullum suggests that if no suitable term already exists for cases like this, we should call them ‘egg corns’, in the metonymic tradition of ‘mondegreen’. 2004 Boston Globe (Nexis) 12 Dec. K5 Shakespeare’s Hamlet said he was ‘to the manner born’, but the eggcorn ‘to the manor born’ has wide currency. 2006 New Scientist 26 Aug. 52/2 Eggcorns often involve replacing an unfamiliar or archaic word with a more common one, such as ‘old-timer’s’ disease for Alzheimer’s. 2010 K. DENHAM & A. LOBECK Linguistics for Everyone i. 13 Crucially, eggcorns make sense, often more than the original words.

I got the good news from Ben Zimmer’s post at the Log.


  1. And from the opposite direction, here’s a word I found today that ought to be revived
    and without fatigacion or weariness to intend to her learning of Latin tongue or French
    from official instructions in 1525 on the organization of the household and education of Princess (later Queen)Mary while she resided in Gloucester as titular head of the Council of the Welsh Marches.
    Perhaps modernize the spelling a bit.
    I can read Language Hat all day without fatigation.

  2. replacing an unfamiliar or archaic word with a more common one, such as ‘old-timer’s’ disease for Alzheimer’s
    I thought that was supposed to be a joke.

  3. I wish I could eat chocolate all day without fatigation.

  4. Plenty of eggcorns can be found, no doubt, in what people do to song lyrics. Or maybe I’m just the only person who thought (for years, I confess) that Jimi Hendrix was singing “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”

  5. Jordan, you’re confusing eggcorns with mondegreens.

  6. What’s a mondegreen and why ?

  7. Mondegreen. (I happen to have Edward D. Ives’s The Bonny Earl of Murray: The Man, The Murder, The Ballad, University of Illinois Press, 1997, and I was all prepared to add a smug remark like “which does not, of course, deal with the subject,” but a glance at the index sent me to pp. 97-98, where there is a discussion beginning “No report of this kind would be complete without some mention of what I have come to call ‘mondegreens’, because that was the way author Sylvia Wright as a child heard the first stanza of ‘The Bonny Earl’ from her mother’s reading of the ballad aloud…”)

  8. “‘to the manor born’ has wide currency..” – presumably because it was the title of a popular TV comedy.

  9. “‘to the manor born’”
    Very popular saying by us clodhoppers of those that were “hoity toity” or putting on airs and graces, and still chewing cud.

  10. The gun is of Swedish manufacture most likely perhaps at Finspång (Finspong) hence its reference to being of the ‘Finbanker’ type.

  11. Er, what gun?

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