A flood of emails came in following my bleg for examples of eggcorns. The most commonly cited one:
An eggcorn I am guilty of is “for all intents and purposes”. I guess I thought it was an extreme statement, therefore I was guilty of stating the phrase as for all INTENSIVE purposes.
A former employer always said “let’s nip this in the butt” instead of bud, and I always had to stifle a laugh picturing what it would accomplish.
My favorite example dates back to the early ’90s, when an abstract for a presentation at a computer conference talked about the need to “integrate desperate mail systems”. Why yes, I’ve seen quite a few of those.
That’s actually a malapropism, which many readers are confusing for an eggcorn. Wikipedia helps with the distinction:
The unintentionally incorrect use of similar-sounding words or phrases in speaking is a malapropism. If there is a connection in meaning, it can be called an eggcorn.
But we can’t pass up this malapropism:
My all-time favorite, culled from the annals of Freshman Literature classes everywhere, is Honoré de Ballsac.
Back to the eggcorns:
As a person who sends and receives thousands of so-called professional emails, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a point described as “mute” instead of “moot”.
For some reason my marketing colleagues are all about “flushing out” concepts these days, rather than fleshing them out. Granted, most of them would be better off flushed …
People routinely say “breech the subject” when (I’m 98% sure) they mean broach.
Not too embarrassing, but I long thought that in the Pledge of Allegiance, we were describing the attributes of the Almighty when we said, “one nation, under God, invisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
On that note:
One of my younger brothers when we were little thought the opening verse of the patriotic hymn America the Beautiful went like this: “O, Beautiful for spaceship guys … ”
When I was a kid, my father had an employee in his business who was somewhat developmentally challenged. He used tons of eggcorns, but my favorite was that he called varicose veins “very close veins” – a pretty good description.
One more for now:
Stevie Nicks’ song “Edge of Seventeen” is an eggcorn. Someone told Stevie they had been doing whatever it was they were doing since the age of seventeen. Stevie heard “edge of seventeen” and decided to use that as the title of one of her hit songs.
Many more to come …