This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Nuts and Bolts: eggcorn.

Eggcorn is a term invented on a blog called Language Log in September 2003. Mark Liberman wrote an article about a woman who always called an acorn an eggcorn (which, although technically wrong, has a certain relevance and beauty about it) and Geoffrey Pullum suggested that eggcorn should be the term for this sort of wise mistake. 

An eggcorn is a bit like a pun, except that the speaker doesn't know he's making it. An eggcorn is also a bit like a malapropism, except that the result is interesting and wise.

I think we should embrace the eggcorn. I mean, I've never thought that language should be put on a pedastool, though I can't agree that there should be no holes barred, or that we should be able to give completely free range to our tongues. No, we do need to keep on the straight and arrow to a large extent, even though the nature of  communication is such that the lame man is bound to be affected by his ethnic routes, which have been travelled since we first acquired our posable thumbs, so that many changes are constantly being made and lots are now a fate accompli.

But what a joy it is, nevertheless, to imagine an ex-patriot watching a preying mantis as he pours his breakfast skimp milk.

Word To Use Today: eggcorn. This is a nice new word. Enjoy it!


  1. A friend of mine says: "No bars held".

    If I had the choice of being in a 'no holds barred' fight or a 'no bars held' fight, I would choose the one without bars. She doesn't seem it (at all), but my friend is obviously most wise.

    An eggcorn. I like it : o )

    1. No bars held is brilliant, thank you!

      The only trouble with eggcorns is that the more you think about them the harder it is to be sure which is the 'right' version, rather in the way that Paddington now seems an extremely odd name for a railway station.

  2. I must say this blog is so interesting. Really this is new word.

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  3. Thanks Anon. You're very welcome indeed!