In linguistics, an eggcorn is an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker's dialect (sometimes called oronyms). The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original but plausible in the same context, such as "old-timers' disease" for "Alzheimer's disease". An eggcorn can be described as an intra-lingual phono-semantic matching, a matching in which the intended word and substitute are from the same language.
The term eggcorn was coined by professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum in September 2003 in response to an article by Mark Liberman on the website Language Log, a blog for linguists. Liberman discussed the case of a woman who substitutes the phrase egg corn for the word acorn, and argued that the precise phenomenon lacked a name. Pullum suggested using "eggcorn" itself as a label.
An eggcorn differs from a malapropism, the latter being a substitution that creates a nonsensical phrase. Classical malapropisms generally derive their comic effect from the fault of the user, while eggcorns are substitutions that exhibit creativity, logic[scientific citation needed] or ignorance. Eggcorns often involve replacing an unfamiliar, archaic, or obscure word with a more common or modern word ("baited breath" for "bated breath").
The phenomenon is similar to the form of wordplay known as the pun except that, by definition, the speaker or writer intends the pun to have some humorous effect on the recipient, whereas one who speaks or writes an eggcorn is unaware.
- ex-patriot instead of expatriate
- mating name instead of maiden name
- on the spurt of the moment instead of on the spur of the moment
- preying mantis instead of praying mantis
- for all intensive purposes instead of for all intents and purposes
- "eggcorn n.". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (fifth ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2011. ISBN 0-547-04101-2.
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- Staff (2006-08-26). "The word: Eggcorns". New Scientist. p. 52. Retrieved 2006-12-21. LexisNexis link
- Zwicky, Arnold (2 Nov 2003). "LADY MONDEGREEN SAYS HER PEACE ABOUT EGG CORNS".
- Pullum, Geoffrey K (October 27, 2003). "Phrases for lazy writers in kit form". Language Log. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
- "expatriate » expatriot". The Eggcorn Database. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
- Saner, Emine (2006-10-05). "Tiny eggcorns, mighty gaffes". London: The Guardian. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- "pray » prey". The Eggcorn Database. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- "intents and purposes » intensive purposes". The Eggcorn Database. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
- Diamond, Graeme (September 2010). "September 2010 new words". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
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- Liberman, Mark, and Geoffrey K. Pullum. (2006) Far from the Madding Gerund and Other Dispatches from Language Log. Wilsonville, OR: William, James & Co.
- Liberman, Mark. (2003-09-23) "Egg corns: folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreen, ???" Language Log (weblog) Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- Peters, Mark. (2006-08-09) "Like a Bowl in a China Shop." The Chronicle of Higher Education: Chronicle Careers. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- "How the Web Is Changing Language." Talk of the Nation (radio program), 2006-06-28.
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- Harbeck, James. (2010-06-02) "My Veil of Tears" Retrieved 2012-01-26.