What’s an eggcorn? You know, the thing that chipmunks eat? No?


So I am not the only one bothered by eggcorns. “Should of” drives me nuts. Yeah, eggcorns are the real reason I try not to speak too flowery-like. I notice them all the time and just hope that I don’t commit the sin. As a result, I’m “like a bowl in a china shop”…you know, just sitting here. When I really should be “cutting to the cheese”. It would be funny if it wasn’t real. Oh heck, it’s still funny.

Comments (27)

  1. Dean Harding says:

    I don’t know if "should of" is an eggcorn or just bad grammer, but it drives me nuts as well.

    What drives me nuts is not so much when people use the wrong words, but when they use the right words but just pronounce them incorrectly (forgein accents notwithstanding). Like when people say "acks" instead of "ask"

    I can stand listening to a lot of hip hop songs simply because of all the mispronunciations. Like when they say "Uma" instead of "I’m going to." Like that really annoying "pussycat dolls" song where they say "Uma stick wit choo". Argh!

  2. Tim says:

    I love these, actually! Some I’ve collected over the years:

    "Stood out like a screen door"

    "All intensive purposes"

    "Putting the chicken before the cart"

    "Living on a bootstrap"

    "Doggy dog world"

    Got to love a "doggy dog world".

  3. Paul says:

    I love eggcorns (aka malapropisms).  They serve a very useful purpose as private pretension poppers, and can be damn funny.

    My favorite is "there’s a bathroom on the right" (there’s a bad moon on the rise – Creedance Clearwater Revival).  It reminds me of high school and a group of dull-headed kids who were convinced those were the real words.  The phrase has become a proxy for me of a particular kind of fog about the real world.

    While not strictly-speaking an "eggcorn", a turn of phrase that my ear finds really dissonant is "might could".  Genteel southerners are fond of saying things like "We might could go for dinner tonight".  Same for "might should".  Like fingernails on a blackboard.

    Really good ones have a naive truth buried in them.  My young son was playing Lego Star Wars last week and excitedly told us that he was locked in ‘moral combat’ with some droids.  It was cute, funny, and truthful all at the same time.

    And, where would the English language be without Yogi Berra.  

    "When you see a fork in the road, take it."

    "… deja vu, all over again" (how many even realize they’re quoting from the book of Yogi when they say this?)

    "Nobody goes there anymore.  It’s too crowded."

    I had never heard the "bowl in a china shop" one before.  That has a clever ring to it.  Thanks for introducing me to it.  I’m sure we’ll become good friends.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Dean-my ear notices mispronounced words as well. With hip-hop music, though I have to embrace it because I can’t get on the treadmill without a little fitty (that’s 50 cent).

    Tim- I never heard "a doggy dog world", but if it exists, I want to go there…woof!

    Paul-private pretention poppers…that’s exactly it. Along the lines of "might could" is "get gone"…that one always gets me but I don’t hear it that often these days. By the way, my mom is a big fan of your comments. I can just imagine her loving what  you just said about naive truth.

  5. Dean Harding says:

    Heather: well, maybe I just don’t like the pussycat dolls…

    Ooh, another one (and this may be an Australian-only thing, I’m not sure) is where people use a singular noun in place of a plural. For example you might say "It was about three year ago that … (whatever)" – how hard is it to say the "s" on "years"?!

    But now I’m getting rather side-tracked from the original topic… I just like to vent 🙂

  6. TC Loy says:

    Woof woof to you too.

    And "Who let the dawgs out"

    yes, there are so few lines in that song(really begging for imagination) but they certainly got a whole lot of mileage outta that one.

    Hmmm..Mark Twain(i.e., Samuel Clemens) don’t even spell the words right but then he certainly have more imagination and words.

  7. This is a great topic.  I don’t know if some of these qualify as "eggcorns" but here are some that I hear regularly:

    "Alls" instead of "all" as in "alls you have to do"

    That one drives me crazy.

    I have a friend who has a number of them he uses but my favorite is "expidentially" for "exponentially"!

    Every recruiter has heard this one: renumeration (supposed to be ruMUNeration)

    This one I heard years ago and still remember it: "separate the wheat from the shaft"

    And remember this great one from the TV commercial (For Fedex or UPS) "French benefits" that was classic.

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Dean-I’m not sure i could actually identify any works by the Pussycat Dolls myself ; ) Americans sometimes have the opposite affliction of what you describe, they (we?) add an "s" on to things. When I was growing up, our grocery store was called "Jewel". Jewel wasn’t a person who owned the store, it was the name of the brand, but many people called it "Jewel’s".

    TC-Mark Twain gets a pass on his eggcorns ; )

    Anthony-oh yeah, French benefits. Like they want five weeks of vacation like the europeans have?

  9. Steve Levy says:

    Anyways, I’m tired of hearing about old adages…

    Then there are mondegreens (essentially aural malapropisms):

    * "There’s a bathroom on the right."

      "There’s a bad moon on the rise."

      Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater

    * "Excuse me while I kiss this guy."

      "Excuse me while I kiss the sky."

      Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix

    * "Dead ants are my friends; they’re blowin’ in the wind."

      "The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind."

      Blowin’ In The Wind, Bob Dylan

    * "Midnight after you’re wasted."

      "Midnight at the oasis."

      Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur

    * "The girl with colitis goes by."

      "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes."

      Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Beatles

    * "Sleep in heavenly peas."

      "Sleep in heavenly peace."

      Silent Night, Christmas carol

    * "I blow bubbles when you are not here."

      "My world crumbles when you are not here."

      I Try, Macy Gray

    * "I got no towel, I hung it up again."

      "I get knocked down, but I get up again."

      Tubthumping, Chumbawumba

    * "Sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble; tres bien ensemble."

      "Sunday monkey won’t play piano song, play piano song."

      Michelle, The Beatles

    * "I’ll be your xylophone waiting for you."

      "I’ll be beside the phone waiting for you."

      Build Me Up Buttercup, The Foundations

    * "Are you going to starve an old friend?"

      "Are you going to Scarborough Fair?"

      Scarborough Fair, Simon and Garfunkel

    * "Baking carrot biscuits."

      "Taking care of business."

      Takin’ Care Of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive

    * "Donuts make my brown eyes blue."

      "Don’t it make my brown eyes blue."

      Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Crystal Gale

    * "What a nice surprise when you’re out of ice."

      "What a nice surprise bring your alibis."

      Hotel California, Eagles

    * "Hope the city voted for you."

      "Hopelessly devoted to you."

      Hopelessly Devoted to You, Grease

    * "I’m a pool hall ace."

      "My poor heart aches."

      Every Step You Take, The Police

    Of course, everyone has seen the resume gaffs such as the very religious experience as an Account Manger….

  10. Paul says:

    Heather, I don’t know if you did this on purpose, but the way you spelled pretention is somewhat amusing in a blog on eggcorns.   ‘Pretention’ is a french legal concept which describes when someone makes a claim against a thing that they feel entitled to demand,  but for which no judgment or admission of claim exists to back up.  I suspect it is related to pretension, which is in effect a questionable claim to self-importance – the roots of the words are identical.  Since I doubt that most would even recognize it, it is indubitably a very small eggcorn, and perhaps just an inadvertent typo.

    This reminds me of the subject of brain bugs, the songs or phrases that get stuck in your head and keep replaying endlessly until you are distracted by something else.  Often someone else engineers the brain bug implantation (you hear them whistling something, and then you do it for the next 3 hours.)  I’m going to plant a brain bug right now – think about your favorite Gorillaz tune.  Now try to stop thinking it.  I don’t know why it reminds me of that, it just does.

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul, OK, you got me. I guess that makes me "authentic", right? I figured that it was just a matter of time before someone caught me doing that. It’s more fun for me to laugh at other people doing that.

    Gorrilaz are particularly brain buggy, if you ask me. Just like commercials.

  12. patblue says:

    An entirely different annoyance but along the same lines…My ears don’t often catch eggcorns, they do however catch misplaced ‘S’s’.   These misplaced S situations can put me in the crazy house pacing back and forth……

    For instance –

    Claim Jumpers

    Nordstroms

    Fred Meyers

    Safeways

    What if we were to take the S off of Macy’s?

    Do you have a fancy term for this group of grammar missteps?

    And also my favorite mondegreen or eggcorn or whatever – from a Crystal Gale song from long ago…

    Correct Lyric – ‘don’t take me half the way’

    became ‘don’t make me have to wait’….

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    Patblue-I think it’s a "midwesternism"…just guessing

  14. Paul says:

    Ok, I was going to leave this alone, but 2 things came to mind.  First, the last time someone told me their mother liked me, I ended up getting married.  Nuff said.

    The second comes from a childhood memory of getting in trouble at church.  There was a hymn that our pastor was fond of choosing – we had to sing it at least 10-15 times a year.  It was called Oh Jesus, As Thou Wilt.  Of course as kids, we ignored the comma (put it in the wrong place, really) and then my imagination would take hold.  I had this image of Jesus on the cross wilting, like spinach leaves left out too long.

    I couldn’t help but laugh when that was being sung (and it is quite a solemn hymn).  It got my father quite angry, although he admits now that he found it funny too, just didn’t want me laughing in church during hymn singing.  We had to sing it so often, that my reaction became reflexive.  I would start smirking and trying to hold back a laugh as soon as I knew what was next on the agenda.  And, it always irritated my dad.

    I hope there aren’t any out there who are easily offended.  I wasn’t trying to be sacriligious — it’s just what happened.

    I found a copy of it on the internet, in case anyone wants to have a look at:  http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/m/j/mjesuatw.htm . Apparently, the memory doesn’t always serve well, since the first word is actually ‘My’, not ‘Oh’.

    Not an eggcorn, probably, but it must be in the same class of objects.

  15. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK, well the first thing you have nothing to worry about. My mom isn’t on the market ; )

    We all have those church/solemn moment stories…probably not involving spinach, but the time to get the giggles is when it’s least appropriate.

  16. Dudley says:

    Aren’t eggcorns kind of like beernuts?  I think they’re what was on Otter’s bar back in college.

    Anyhow, "doubly".  Everything is better if it’s recorded in doubly.

  17. Dudley says:

    Almost forgot, one that’s very common in this area is to call an asterisk an "a$$trick".

  18. HeatherLeigh says:

    I think that last one is what happenes at family reunions when crazy uncle Joe gets drunk.

  19. Sue says:

    My brother’s girlfriend was talking about the windy weather one night and she mentioned the "windshield factor."

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    that’s a good one. Though most folks in the west here wouldn’t know what wind shear/wind chill is anyway. Of course, it was one of the reasons I left Chicago. That and the windshield factor ; )

  21. Dudley says:

    >I think that last one is what happenes at family reunions when crazy uncle Joe gets drunk.

    That is such a mental image neither of us wanted associated with your face…

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Dudley-sorry. Does it help if I tell you that I don’t actually have an uncle Joe?

  23. Divine Rebel says:

    Ah, I’ve been cursed w/the evil eye as well….

    "Blessed art thou, a monkey swimming…"

    "Blessed art thou amongst women…"

    Took me years to figure that one out!

    Congressman for all Alaska, except Ear and a few others, Don Young is the poster boy for eggcorns.

    And while not an eggcorn, a serious peeve in non-agreement issues:  Anyone taking this medicine should consult their doctor.   Aaarrrggghhh!  AnyONE should consult his or her doctor!  Or, those taking this medicine should consult their doctorS!  Fear of sexism….

    Thanks for letting me rant in this divine forum!

  24. Patrick says:

    all those misquoted songs reminds me of the one i heard long ago:

    ‘she’s a muscular boy’

    (she’s a must to avoid)

  25. Shar says:

    I never understood the song about the "big hotel with the light on"… Ah! but now it makes sense, when I discovered it is "Big old jet airliner.  

    My daughter was surprised when she learned that they are "windshield wipers", not "Winchell wipers.  

    And no one seems to know that "Barber an"  is for Barbara Ann.  

  26. Shar says:

    …and of cousre, I must not forget

    "give me tres pesos"

    "forgive my trespasses"

  27. kate says:

    Let’s not forget

    "Heart Rendering"

    when it should be heart rending!