Set 37 – Five New Words for Dec 7

Theme: Words for linguistic errors

1. spoonerism


noun: The transposition of (usually) the initial sounds of words producing a humorous result. For example:
“It is now kisstomary to cuss the bride.” (Spooner while officiating at a wedding)
“Is the bean dizzy?” (Spooner questioning the secretary of his dean)

“As for her own red-faced moment on air, Hudson recalled how she coined a somewhat racy spoonerism in a reference to Killorglin’s Puck Fair.”

2. malapropism

noun: The humorous misuse of a word by confusing it with a similar-sounding word.
For example, “pineapple of perfection” for “pinnacle of perfection”.

“Mayor Thomas Menino is sometimes made fun of for his malapropisms; he once said the city’s parking shortage was ‘an Alcatraz* around my neck’.”
Katharine Q. Seelye; Ailing Mayor of Boston Says He’s Still Up to the Job; The New York Times; Dec 17, 2012.

3. Freudian slip

noun: An error that reveals someone’s subconscious mind.
For example, “I wish you were her” instead of “I wish you were here.”

“The Freudian slip is invoked to explain some strange and embarrassing behavior. ‘Nice to beat you,’ smiles a woman when she meets the ex-girlfriend of her husband.”

4. eggcorn


noun: An erroneous alteration of a word or phrase, by replacing an original word with a similar sounding word, such that the new word or phrase also makes a kind of sense.

For example: “ex-patriot” instead of “expatriate” and “mating name” instead of “maiden name”.

“Will eggcorns continue to hatch? This is a moot point (or is that mute?). Yet certainly anyone waiting with ‘baited’ (bated) breath for ‘whole scale’ (wholesale) changes may need to wait a while.”

5. mondegreen (MON-di-green)


noun: A word or phrase resulting from mishearing a word or phrase, especially in song lyrics.

For example: “The girl with colitis goes by” for “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes” in the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.

“Since I live in Thailand, the most meaningful mondegreen for me was my own mishearing of a line from The Jam’s Eton Rifles. Instead of the correct ‘What chance do you have against a tie and a crest?’, for years I heard ‘What chance do you have against a Thai in a dress?'”


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