Eggcorns grow into oak trees

One of my favourite linguistic phenomena is the eggcorn.  It occurs when a person hears something slightly different to what was said, but the misheard form still makes some sort of sense.  If a person never sees the phrase written down, it’s very possible for them to think that their interpretation is the correct version.

A good example is the word eggcorn itself, which some people believe is the correct pronunciation and spelling of acorn.  It qualifies as a true eggcorn, because acorns are egg-shaped, and corn is a kind of seed, so eggcorn almost makes sense.

A little digging around the internet has revealed some gems, and the Eggcorn Database is a great source.  It encourages public submission, discussion, and possible etymologies.  It even includes some that it doesn’t technically classify as eggcorns.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • (chocolate) eclair >> eggclair
  • (social) leper >> leopard
  • an arm and a leg >> a nominal egg
  • eau de cologne >> odor cologne
  • cold-hearted >> coal-hearted
Social leopards

Social leopards

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