Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd


The Dish thread that keeps on giving:

As a tyke in the 1940s, I often heard grownups talking about a very bad foreign man named – unless my ears deceived me – Hair Hitler. I had seen newsreel footage of this fidgety fellow with his unruly mop flopping about, so it never occurred to me to question why he was called “Hair.” When I grew a bit older and saw him referred to in print as “Herr Hitler,” I was in no way made wiser. “Herr,” I assumed, was how the Germans spelled “hair.”

Another reader:

We live in Texas and my husband is a diehard University of Texas grad, both undergrad and law school. So when our son was about three, he came into the living room during a UT football game. My husband flashed him the hook-em horns sign and told him what it meant.  The kid started saying “honk em horns”. We laughed so hard and thought, well, it makes sense.

Another notes regarding our previous batch:

“Undertoad” is an eggcorn from John Irving’s The World According to Garp. I wonder if your reader traded it for their own memory or if they came to it on their own?

Full passage from Garp at the bottom of the post. Several more eggcorns from readers are below:

Though the eggcorn itself might not be suitable for Sunday Dish, I think the rest of the video is, since Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries in LA talks about how we belong to each other, how we need to be tender with one another, how important community is. (I can’t tell you how much I value the Dish community and the work you all do!) The eggcorn is at 20:45. Fr. Greg is relating a story about one of his staff, a former gang member named Louis, who now frequently gives presentations about the work of Homeboy. Fr. Greg:

He was giving me tips on how to give a speech. He said, ‘You have to pepper your talk with self-defecating humor.’ I said, ‘Yeah, No shit.’

Heh. Another reader:

Not sure if this qualifies, but here’s my submission from only a couple of weeks ago. During a typical weekend winter squall, my in-laws had to cancel their visit out of concerns for safety on the roads. A few days later I mentioned to my nephew that I was sorry he wasn’t able to visit the previous weekend. His reply was that his father was afraid to go out because there was “a lot of black guys on the road.”

After puzzling over that for a few minutes, I asked him to repeat that in front of his father. Turns out my nephew overheard his father say there was “black ice” on the road. I only hope my nephew didn’t repeat that at school!


After my father’s funeral, my uncle told me that he had enjoyed the sermon, because the priest wasn’t “holier than now.”


When I was in grade school, Jewish friends would sometimes bring in gefilte (pronounced ga-fill-tah) fish during Passover.  We had a fish tank at home, which I knew had a filter we changed from time to time.  I thought they were saying “filter fish” and naturally assumed they were eating their tropical fish on matzo bread.

Lastly, here’s that passage from The World According to Garp:

Duncan began talking about Walt and the undertow – a famous family story. For as far back UnderToad1as Duncan could remember, the Garps had gone every summer to Dog’s Head Harbor, New Hampshire, where the miles of beach in front of Jenny Fields’ estate were ravaged by a fearful undertow. When Walt was old enough to venture near the water, Duncan said to him – as Helen and Garp had, for years, said to Duncan – ‘Watch out for the undertow.’ Walt retreated, respectfully. And for three summers Walt was warned about the undertow. Duncan recalled all the phrases.

‘The undertow is bad today.’

‘The undertow is strong today.’

‘The undertow is wicked today.’ Wicked was a big word in New Hampshire – not just for the undertow.

And for years Walt reached out for it. From the first, when he asked what it could do to you, he had only been told that it could pull you out to sea. It could suck you under and drown you and drag you away.

It was Walt’s fourth summer at Dog’s Head Harbor, Duncan remembered, when Garp and Helen and Duncan observed Walt watching the sea. He stood ankle-deep in the foam from the surf and peered into the waves, without taking a step, for the longest time. The family went down to the water’s edge to have a word with him.

‘What are you doing, Walt?’ Helen asked.

‘What are you looking for, dummy?’ Duncan asked him.

‘I’m trying to see the Under Toad,’ Walt said.

‘The what?’ said Garp.

‘The Under Toad,’ Walt said. ‘I’m trying to see it. How big is it?

ToaddetailAnd Garp and Helen and Duncan held their breath; they realized that all these years Walt had been dreading a giant toad, lurking offshore, waiting to suck him under and drag him out to sea. The terrible Under Toad.

Garp tried to imagine it with him. Would it ever surface? Did it ever float? Or was it always down under, slimy and bloated and ever-watchful for ankles its coated tongue could snare? The vile Under Toad.

Between Helen and Garp, the Under Toad became their code phrase for anxiety. Long after the monster was clarified for Walt (‘Undertow, dummy, not Under Toad!’ Duncan had howled), Garp and Helen evoked the beast as a way of referring to their own sense of danger. When the traffic was heavy, when the road was icy – when depression had moved in overnight – they said to each other, ‘The Under Toad is strong today.’

‘Remember,’ Duncan asked on the plane, ‘how Walt asked if it was green or brown?’

Both Garp and Duncan laughed. But it was neither green nor brown, Garp thought. It was me. It was Helen. It was the color of bad weather. It was the size of an automobile.

Update from a reader:

Damn you, Andrew and Dish crew. You say you’re leaving, and then you copy Garp and I realize it’s been 15 years since I read that and I need to pull it out and read it again.

(Illustrations via Doug Salati)

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

We could all use some more of these right now:

In case the Dish doesn’t go ahead, I have an eggcorn to share. My wife and I both work, so we have a nanny for our two kids. We live in SE Asia, and our nanny speaks English fairly well, but it’s her second language. Instead of belly-button, she says “belly-bottom”, so now my 3 year old does as well.  It makes me smile every time.

Another kiddo:

My 9-year-old niece, who arrived from Thailand only six months ago, is determined to learn English. When her father said she and her mother could go to the store without him, she replied, “No, that is something we should do threegether.” (Not “together.”)

And another:

This just happened and it’s too cute not to share. My five-year-old son is into bluegrass, particularly the banjo.

For Christmas we got him a few albums, including Mumford and Sons (not exactly bluegrass, but heavy on the banjo). Today was our first time listening to the album, and when it was over, I asked if he wanted to listen again or pick something else. His reply? “More Mumford and songs!” Made me laugh out loud. (I explained that they are actually “and sons“, but he’s decided that his version is better, so that’s what we’ll be calling them in our house now).

Another reflects on his own childhood:

When I was little, I was terrified of going in the ocean because when my father described to me about the dangerous undertow that is very strong and can pull you out to sea, I heard “undertoad”.  It was a good couple of years until I realized the truth, and during that time I marveled at my friends bravery for ignoring the threat of the Undertoad as they swam happily about.

Another turns to politics:

You might enjoy the line under the video in this article:

McCain was interrupted multiple times by boos and at one point a member of the crowd shouts “you’re a war mongrel [sic].”

As my friend Jonny used to say, “it’s guys like McCain that get my dandruff up.”

Along similar lines:

From a FB comment on the TX Lt. Gov’s recent statement on open carry:

…no, I wasn’t misinformed by the media, I read your actual quote. It was a weak comment that showed lack of support when you said it wasn’t a priority. You instead could have prevented this mail-storm if you had made a strong comment…

Another reader:

On a recent flight from Yangon to Bangkok, the pre-take-off security announcement included: “if you should experience a loss of cabin pleasure …” I thought, “That’s some service! An eggcorn? Mis-hearing? Or just accented English?

One more:

I’m a therapist, and just this morning a client reported to me that she had a baby and now has “post party depression.” Which is sort of brilliant, I think.

And this email is just too adorable not to add:

Acorn not eggcorn!

God bless you and good future. I just found your blog for the first time today!

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

Just when we thought the thread was over:

I grew up visiting a cabin in the Sierra that my grandfather built after WW2, when my dad was little.  Many of the stories about the cabin involved a Scandinavian journeyman carpenter they hired to help build it.  Because of this, for much longer than I care to admit, I thought a finish carpenter was a carpenter from Finland.


I fly up and down the East Coast a lot.  For a while I was puzzled about the flight attendants’ announcement about putting “your rollerboards” in the overhead compartments … until I realized that “rollerboards” is a corruption of “roll-aboards” – what small bags with wheels were called when they first came on the market.


My associate just tried to describe someone as shady and said: “He is all smoky mirrors,” instead of smoke and mirrors.  I told her about your eggcorn thread and warned her that I would be submitting this.

Busted. Many more eggcorns below:

OK, I don’t know if you’ve heard this one already, but …

In the third grade, shortly before Christmas, we were coloring pictures to take home to our parents.  Incidentally, it was Maryland in the 1950s, when each school day began with a prayer, and there certainly was no pressure to avoid religious themes.  A friend of mine drew a nativity scene that included a short, fat man over by the side, among some of the animals.  The teacher was prompting each of us to describe our work, and she asked my friend who the rotund gentleman was.  His reply was that it was Round John Virgin.


From my French-speaking, Tunisian sister-in-law yesterday: “We should go back there, because it will be a safe heaven.”


You may be oversaturated with these, but I can’t resist the best one I have seen. I am an appeals prosecutor and read a lot of trial transcripts.  One time an attorney said he wanted to be sure his client’s rights were protected, and the trial judge, known for his loquaciousness, said (according to the transcript), “We try to protects a defendant’s rights deciduously.”  He obviously said “assiduously,” and the court reporter got it wrong.  I couldn’t resist sending a copy of the transcript page to the judge and the defendant’s attorney with the question:  should we be protecting a defendant’s rights deciduously or coniferously?


Read this today on The Atlantic’s readers’ discussion page:

This administration, beyond being the most polarizing and immature in history, is utterly and completely tone-death.

Tee hee.


Sorry to be so late with this one, but these eggcorns are hilarious. Many years ago I was at a meeting in a Midwestern city.  One evening a colleague and I went to an English-style restaurant, where the waitresses were referred to as “wenches” (this was in the 1980s).  I ordered roast beef, and the “wench” asked me if I wanted O Juice with it.  I readily said yes.  When we were served, my friend wondered where the orange juice was.  Actually, I was responding to a familiar question that dated to the cafeteria in college, where they often served roast beef “au jus,” but the servers would always ask us if we wanted O Juice with it.


My sister always wanted to be outside playing with the boys; she resented it when grandmother kept her indoors to learn to knit and sew and do “crewel work.”  I’m sure the frustration contributed to her habit, ever after, of calling it “cruel work.”


My wife’s grandmother, a sweet lady from the hills of Kentucky, wrote us that she was diagnosed with “high potension.” We were stumped. Hypertension.

One more:

My son’s eggcorn harkens back to the original.  As a preschooler many years ago he understood that acorns came from oak trees.  He then extended the concept to pine trees, calling pinecones pinecorns.  No amount of gentle correction made any difference.  They remained pinecorns for a long time.

Another reader takes a stab at a new subject:

If you’re stopping eggcorns, how about some spoonerisms? JUST THIS SECOND I made up a cool spoonerism from a passing conversation, a habit of mine. I like how it sort of mirrors the original phrase which I think aficionados score extra points for: “Roars to be fecund with.” You’re welcome.

Update from another:

Oh man, I can get on board this spoonerism train. My favorite to date is a take on describing something as highly active/pungent: “kicking like Bruce Lee” turns into “kicking like loose bree.”

And to add to the eggcorns, growing up, my sister didn’t like to make any hard and fast plans, but just “play it by year.” We rib her about that to this day.


A contribution to your never-ending thread: The head of the local home-school association once wrote, in a newsletter item following a school vacation, that she hoped everyone had had a nice “restbit.” I’ve used that ever since; it sounds even more pleasant than a respite.

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 10.49.30 AM

This is probably the last of the mega popular thread. A reader sends the above image:

Am I too late for eggcorns? One of Boston’s historic burying grounds is Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, named for the family of William Copp, who once owned the land. Several maps, including this one from 1776, label it “Corpse Hill” instead. Perfectly reasonable, especially considering locals’ relationship with the letter R.

An eggcorn fitting for the week:

Years ago, in winter, my Italian boyfriend called the “wind chill” factor the “windshield” factor, as he thought it meant how cold the temperature was going over a car’s windshield. He had been in Canada his whole life and nobody had corrected him (before me). He laughed.


What do you call it when you and your buddies go to the beach and build a big driftwood fire, cluster around it, and become even closer friends? This morning I saw the following on a gold prospecting forum I visit: “I have had many similar finds on beaches where people have at one time had a bond fire.”

A dozen more after the jump:

You guys are probably sick of these by now, but I’ll throw one in:

I remember calling my brother and getting my 4-year-old niece.  When I asked her if my brother was at home, she told me that he had gone to “his ami,” having clearly heard that her father was on his way to that city in Florida.


I’ve got a companion to the “Seattle” eggcorn! (“Who is Attle, and why are we going to see her?”) A young friend on her first airplane trip was paying close attention to all the pilot’s announcements in preparation for takeoff. At one point the pilot announced that they were just waiting for clearance and then would be taking off. The kid turned to her older companion and asked, “Who is Clarence, and why are we waiting for him?”


A neighbor once told me that the second of two related unwelcome events was “like addin’ salt to an injury.” (Insult to injury)


I worked with a marketing director of a Texas bank in the ’70s. When something went wrong he was afraid that he was likely to be the “escaped goat”.


OK, I’ll bite. In law school, one of my best friends, had two eggcorns that he used (until someone pointed out the error): “all intensive purposes” for “all intents and purposes;” and “the straightened arrow” for “the straight and narrow.”


After reading the latest update to this thread, I just received a letter from a fellow attorney in which he endorses a judicial candidate on the grounds that she is “imminently qualified” for the appointment.  Perhaps, by the time she takes the bench, she will be all the way there!


One of my partners in business sometimes tells me that he’s “flusterated” by one thing or another. The first few times I thought he might’ve misspoken. It wasn’t until recently that I realized he thought the word was flusterated instead of frustrated – and you know what, sometimes I get pretty flusterated too.


I grew up near Boston, and therefore I believed that Arthur was someone who wrote books.


I am a long-time reader and subscriber, but I this is the first time I am writing in. Reviewing all the eggcorns that have been shared, I thought your readers would enjoy this one. When I was about 10, I first encountered the hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”  The opening line stated, quite dramatically, “All hail the power of Jesus’s name, let angels PROSTRATE fall.” By this time in my life I had heard of PROSTATE cancer and knew where it was located on the male body. For the life of me, I did not understand what was going on with those angels.


My aunt used to say that you had to heat water in a pot until it came to a roaring boil.

One more:

Teaching 8th grade English, I’ve circled more than a few eggcorns in red ink over the last 18 years. The one I see with astonishing frequency: some variation or other on “It’s important not to take things for granite.” I’ll cut them some slack; they are, after all, fourteen. Wy wife, however, is fair game for good-natured ribbing for telling our sons recently “Don’t lick a gift horse in the mouth”.

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

Another day, another batch:

When my daughter was four, I asked her to go get me a beer (as it happens, a Budweiser) from the refrigerator. She was happy to make her dad happy and when she returned she said, “Here’s your buzzwater, Dad.”

Another tosses in a mondegreen:

For years, my favorite beer advertisement on the radio was a heavy metal tune with lyrics that went “AMSTEL LIIIIIIGHT, Enter night! Off to never never land!” I was too young to drink beer, and evidently too sheltered to have heard of Metallica.

From a reader with a Mozambique-born wife:

Her favorite tea is Early Grey.

Many more eggcorns below:

In my first real journalism job, my first big assignment was a feature on the head of an investment fund. He’s a very smart guy surrounded by a very smart team. I interviewed a partner in the firm for some background and, in my draft, quoted the partner using the phrase “a sort of Damocles.”

Fortunately, my editor asked me if that’s what he actually said. It was, I insisted. I went back and listened to the recording of our conversation multiple times, and that’s what I heard him say. Then I thought, “I don’t actually know what a ‘Damocles’ is.” So I did a little research and learned about Cicero and the Sword of Damocles and figured out quickly that I had a long way to go if I wanted to be any good at my job.


One of our ER psychiatrists referred in a note yesterday to the “Bloods and Crypts.”


I grew up in a small town, the kind where the newspaper would report on anything and everything that was happening if it was even mildly interesting. Sometime around my senior year of high school, the newspaper editor/reporter retired and was replaced by someone much younger. One of the first stories that the new editor ran was a story about the new tow truck that one of the two service stations in town had purchased. The new tow truck had a 15,000 pound winch on the back of it. Unfortunately, the newspaper article instead stated that the truck had a 15,000 pound wench in the back.

It’s unclear whether this ultimately helped or hurt the tow truck owner’s business.

Heh. Another:

When I was student-teaching, I taught To Kill a Mockingbird to a 10th grade class, and somehow we got onto the subject of ghosts (that was 20 years ago, but most likely we were referencing Atticus Finch’s remark that “there were other ways of making people into ghosts”). A female student then made a comment and used the idiom “the ghost is clear.” Everyone looked at her, puzzled. “You mean, the coast is clear,” I said. “No,” she responded, “that’s not the saying – ghosts are clear, aren’t they?”

Dina would appreciate this one:

When my son was four, we took a month-long camping trip following the Lewis and Clark Trail from our home in North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean.  At one point we told my son that at the end of the trip we were going to Seattle. He got this really puzzled look on his face, and asked, “Who’s Attle, and why are we going to see her?”

Another of sorts:

​I was holding back on sending this because it’s more related to an accent than an actual “eggcorn”, but somebody in the thread brought up the Boston accent and I couldn’t resist. In graduate school I worked in the produce department of the Cambridge, Massachusetts Bread & Circus Market (eventually purchased by Whole Foods). I was relatively new and sometimes overwhelmed at the bizarre array of produce that was for sale.

One day a call comes in and I take the phone. Caller: “Do you carry staff root?”

Me (after checking the display): “No, sir. We have celery root, burdock root, taro root and ginger root. We don’t have any staff root.”

Caller: “No, no, no. Fruit shaped like a sta!”

He was, of course, a Bostonian looking for ‘star fruit’.​

One more:

I’m always sorry I didn’t save this clipping from our local newspaper … but the cut line under a picture of local school children dancing in a circle holding ribbons tied to a pole said: “Children Demonstrating the Maple Dance.” Makes me laugh to think of the circumstances of the likely over-the-phone interview between a young journalist and a grade school teacher, “Yeah, can you send me photo of the kid’s dancing? What’s it called again?”

Lovely thread. It probably should be recategorized into Mental Health Breaks.

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

The Dish thread that won’t quit:

My twenty-four-year-old daughter has Down syndrome. While she has plenty to say and can be understood by most people, her speech sometimes takes some interesting twists and turns. She does her own laundry, often when I’m not at home. Occasionally a sock or something else falls into the laundry tub, blocking the drain. As the washer empties into the tub, it fills up and the water ends up on the basement floor. The wash machine shuts down and won’t finish the cycle. I get home and she explains the problem. The wash machine, she says, is overfloating.

Another reader:

I came across my favorite eggcorn because I‘m a huge ice hockey fan.

In online chats I’ve seen many English-speaking fans lament the poor quality of their team’s defense “core.”  While every team in every sport probably has a defensive core in some sense, these folks have misheard broadcasters and analysts referring to a team’s defense corps, i.e., the group of the team’s defensemen as a whole. Kind of ironic for a sport that has so many French-speaking followers in North America.


I just read a blog post where someone was fighting “tough and nail” for a position.  Not one I’d heard before.


My 5-year-old just used an eggcorn and I felt compelled to email you. I gave him one of my parental “looks” in response to some mild misbehavior, and he asked me why “I was raising my eyebrowns”.

And another:

When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict, I’d recently started working at an international organisation. At the canteen table over lunch some colleagues were discussing the new pope’s personal history and views on social issues.  We were joined by a colleague from Poland who I didn’t yet know very well. “Have you heard what the Italian media have nicknamed the new Pope?” she asked, in heavily accented English. We shook our heads. I heard: “Papa Nazi.”

“Ah,” I said. “We were just talking about how he was in the Hitler Youth. He does still seem to have pretty right-wing opinions, doesn’t he?”

My other colleagues looked down, embarrassed, while my Polish colleague launched into an impassioned defence of Benedict’s theology and how he’d been forced into the Hitler Youth against his will. I was confused: if she felt that way, why pass on a joke about it?

It was only an hour later, back at my desk, that the penny dropped. Polish – probably Catholic. Italian media – probably not making Nazi jokes. I went to Google, and discovered that they had in fact nicknamed him Papa Ratzi.

I penned an embarrassed email to my Polish colleague, who responded gracefully. But I’ve never been able to shake thinking of Benedict as Papa Nazi.


My friend used to think “miniature golf” was “minutes of golf.” I think a lot of eggcorns are the result of the Boston accent (“min-ah-tcha gawlf”).


Not sure if anyone has mentioned this one yet. My dad’s a doctor who specializes in cardiology and internal medicine.  As a kid, anytime he mentioned having to swing by the ICU (intensive care unit), I thought he was referring to the “I See You.”

One more:

I worked in land surveying for several years with a very bright crew chief. Unfortunately, he got it in his head that a “guy wire” (those wires that run from the top of a utility pole to the ground) was a “guide wire.”  I never corrected him, and even though I always said it correctly, he either didn’t notice, or thought I was an idiot. We’re still friends and I still don’t have the heart to tell him. (If you publish this, though, I WILL post it to Facebook).

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd


Quality eggcorns from readers keep coming in. One sends the above screenshot:

A strangely intriguing but short-lived Internet meme/mystery meets up with an eggcorn of “TV day-view”, as opposed to “TV debut”, by one of the solvers of the mystery. It’s also strange how someone’s random reaction on TV can become the focus of millions of investigators.  I have to admit, I watched the Vine video over and over and I don’t exactly know why …

Several more eggcorns below:

As young child I was out to dinner with my family at a fairly nice restaurant.  I was very excited to order all by myself.  When the server came to ask about my order I was very clear, and then she had to go and ask a question.  “Would you like soup or salad with that?”  I heard “Super Salad” and oh boy did that sound well super. Needles to say my family got a good laugh as I proudly proclaimed, “I will have the super salad!”


When I was taking drivers ed in the early 2000s, nearly all of my classmates thought the term “right of way” was “right away” – as in, “Pedestrians always have the right away,” because they get to go “right away” and the cars have to wait. So if you’re the first person at a four-way stop, you have the “right away” to go first. I remember the instructor getting agitated, “no, no, no it’s right OF way.” Many students still didn’t understand the difference when both meant that the person with the right of way gets to go right away.


I am a Christian minister who was was invited to speak at a community interdenominational worship service. Our small-town newspaper, always hungry for anything to fill its pages, sent a reporter who wrote a lengthy article about the service, including a surprisingly good summary of my sermon. He did slip in an eggcorn, though, when he transcribed my phrase “the pole star of faith” as the pulsar of faith. Because both are metaphors, one is almost as good as the other, I suppose.


Recently we brought on a new staff member to our IT department.  She had no IT background but was a go-getter and adept at using our EHR system and making corrections.  (I will take a known entity over a “good interviewer” any day). On one of her first days, she was answering our help desk phone.  She wrapped up a call by saying that a tech would be right over to twerk her computer.

I know I have tweaked a computer, but I’m still working on the twerking.

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

More tumble in:

An example of an eggcorn has stayed alive in my memory for many years.  A coworker, a smart college student, referred to an injury as having left whelps on his arm.  Unable to resist, I started my version of canine howling.  He quickly realized he was using the wrong term and we would howl together when other poor souls misused the word thereafter.


I didn’t know this thread was still active, so here’s my eggcorn. 

My wife and I were watching a cooking show and the segment was on beef roasts. The chef said we should cut the FAT CAP off the roast prior to searing it. My wife heard it as FAT CAT. Yes, that layer of fat on a roast can look like a cat, if the cat has white fur. I liked her description better and it conjures up the whole idea of skinning the fat cats with tax increases, which I think is a good idea.


I know now the Pennsylvania illustrator I interviewed for a class essay said she would give up illustration if it ever lost that “olfactory feel,” but what I heard at the time, and what found its way into my essay, was “that old factory feel.” I thought she meant to rough feel of paints and turpentine, but she meant the aroma of paint and turpentine. I did not catch this until several years later, rereading the essay.


No funny story, but I have heard this on occasion: Rock-weiler instead of Rottweiler.

Another points to Wikipedia:

Commander Lloyd M. Bucher was psychologically tortured, such as being put through a mock firing squad in an effort to make him confess. Eventually the Koreans threatened to execute his men in front of him, and Bucher relented and agreed to “confess to his and the crew’s transgression.” Bucher wrote the confession since a “confession” by definition needed to be written by the confessor himself. They verified the meaning of what he wrote, but failed to catch the pun when he said “We paean the DPRK [North Korea]. We paean their great leader Kim Il Sung”. (The word “paean” sounds identical to the term “pee on” in American English.)

Update from another:

My boss, complaining about new regulations in the mortgage lending industry in the ’90s: “We’re getting raped over the coals.”


Many years ago, I listened to the radio while applying makeup before going to work in the morning. I usually heard, with not much interest, the announcers giving baseball scores and accounts of the previous day’s games. Some years later I delighted my husband and his best friend by relating my understanding of the expression, “there’s one up in the win column.” I had heard it as “wind column.” Made perfect sense to me. The ball had been caught by the wind and gone higher than usual, resulting in a score.

One more:

When my wife and I were young and very poor, we went to a free clinic in Ocean City, Maryland to get birth control. In the waiting room we eavesdropped on a couple younger than ourselves, so they must have been teenagers. The girl went in, had her exam, came back to report the results to her boyfriend and announced that she needed a pap smear. To which her boyfriend, mystified, said, “The doctor says you need a Pabst Beer?”

The Best Threads Of 2014: “Busted With An Eggcorn”

This fun reader thread is a good way to balance out the heavy one on corporal punishment and also a primeacorns-side example of the collective wit of our readership. A reminder of what an eggcorn is: “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one that sounds very similar or identical.” The thread started when the Guardian called me out for using “leash on life” back in 2007. The resulting avalanche of eggcorns from readers is here. Below are many more new examples:

Don’t know if this is an eggcorn or malaprop, but a student in a quiz just referred to the apostle Paul doing something “by the seed of his pants”.

Another reader:

I saw this phrase in a user email from Bill Simmons’ NFL Week 15 mail bag. A question from a Cleveland Browns fan used this hilarious eggcorn, which I’ve never before seen. I didn’t even finish the paragraph before rushing off to email The Dish. Here’s an excerpt of his email with the gem of a phrase in context (italics mine):

The Browns will win just enough games next season to regress back to their yearly average of five wins, and Jimmy Haslem, tired of scamming truckers and cross-country-vacationers and other middle class pee-ons, will throw a temper tantrum, clean house, and repeat this miserable cycle until the team moves to LA and wins a Super Bowl.


Until very recently I thought that a Hobson’s Choice (a choice where there is not choice at all “take it or leave it”) was actually a “hostage choice.” Personally I think my version is far more descriptive.


One of my friends, describing an interaction with his ex-wife:  “… and then she went bombastic on me.”

And another:

My friend and his son see a dead bird, and his son asks him if birds can get to heaven, since they don’t have any skin. My friend says, “First of all, they do have skin – underneath their feathers – and second, what does that have to do with heaven?”  Son: “because when you get to heaven, Jesus takes all of your skins!” This is an atheist family – he has no idea how his son learned about Hannibal Lecter Jesus.

Another religious misfire:

Courtesy of Scott Walker: “Molotov” in lieu of “Mazel Tov”.  It seems that he may be taking the idea of the stern, vengeful diety of the Old Testament a bit too far.

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

One more round of reader eggcorns:

I’ve been enjoying the thread.  And then earlier tonight during happy hour, a friend said: “My Mom has a heart on for Pope Francis.”  I didn’t even bring attention to it, I just immediately thought, “I need to write the Dish!”


Someone said “Jew him down” around me when I was 15 and working  in an antique store one summer. But I heard “chew him down.”

I figured it meant when you talk someone into giving you a lower price one something, when you haggle, your jaw is moving up and down. You’re chewing down the price. Chewing them down. Chew him down.

I didn’t have tons of cause to use the expression once I was no longer working in an antique store, but I did use it from time to time, as I like to go to junk sales and flea markets. I think I was nearly 25 when I used it in front of the right person – someone who gasped, looked me in the eye, and said, “I can’t believe you would say something like that.” I was completely mortified when she told me what I actually heard in that antique store when I was 15.


I once mentioned to my wife that there was a new tapas bar in town and that we should go there, to which she responded, “Why would you want us to go to a topless bar!”


I can’t believe it took me so long to remember my biggest eggcorn. I’ve been saying since I was a kid that, in cold weather, “It’s a bit nipply outside.”

And another:

Okay, I haven’t seen this one show up on The Dish yet. I work in a group that designs and operates cutting-edge satellite instruments. One of my co-workers is an engineer known for being the best worrier in our building that something might go wrong with the latest instrument. My favorite phrase he always uses whenever he wants to point out a possible problem with a design or plan we’ve come up with is to start by saying: “But the flaw in the ointment is … “


I’m a family law trial attorney and often hear clients complain about being “lamblasted” by their spouses, etc. in relation to their often caustic situations.  I’ve always loved that, and I never correct them!


I’ve been greatly enjoying your threads on eggcorns, mostly because I feel like I’ve committed half of them myself.  Here’s another: When I was a kid, growing up in DC in the ’80s, my parents were friends with a couple named Mary and Barry.  They were always saying things like “we’re going out with Mary an’ Barry tonight,” etc.  I spent a good portion of my childhood thinking my parents were great friends with the mayor!


As a physician, my all-time favorite eggcorn is “sick-as-hell anemia”.

One more:

Years ago my then three year old son was having a tantrum about something I have long since forgotten.  Trying to make peace, I suggested he come join me for a nice bowl of chicken soup.  “NO!,” he screamed.  “OK, suit yourself,” says I.  “No, YOU shoot YOUR-self!!,” came the outraged reply.  Holy Moly.  He has since grown into a kind and gentle young man.

Read all of the reader entries here.