December 2008: What’s an eggcorn?

Listening to this week’s Adam and Joe podcast, Adam mentioned the term “eggcorns” to mean a misunderstanding of a word or phrase. I got quite excited because I’ve got loads of examples and didn’t know there was a word for them!

It came up because a listener had sent a text including the phrase “lone behold” (instead of “low lo and behold”).

Read all about ‘em on Wikipedia.

The first example on Wikipedia is “for all intensive purposes instead of for all intents and purposes”. That’s one of mine – until I was in my twenties I thought it was “for all intensant purposes” and intensant isn’t even a word!

Joe Cornish said he used to think “common or garden” was actually “communal garden”.

Years ago I remember telling a friend of my sister’s that we were getting wall to wall carpets (?) and she said, “Oh, that’s a really good make!” Turned out she thought it was “Waterwall Carpets.”

Me and David fairly recently had a bit of an argument with his mum when she said something had “come out of the woodworm”. No, we said, it’s woodwork. No, she said, “You know! Coming out of the woodworm! I’m surprised you two haven’t heard that expression.” Yeah, okay.

A woman I worked with at Waterstone’s said she’d burned her britches in her last job.

Oh and a friend of mine said her mum had had an operation on her “viaduct”, when  meant bile duct. (We decided the operation was to remove a derailed train.)

My favourite would have to be Joey’s from Friends (which I’ve mentioned loads of times, but I never tire of it): A moo point (instead of a moot point). The meaning of which, of course, is something only cows can understand.

Find more – loads more - here. There’s another great one in the comments on that site:

“I love the ‘pullet surprise’ best as in ‘In 1957, Eugene O’Neill won a Pullet Surprise.’”

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