cufflings

Via Tim Pierce on Facebook today, a photo from Carol Rawlings Miller, taken at Forbidden Planet (USA, given the price in dollars, not UK):

A nice eggcorn, and one that hasn’t been reported on the eggcorn site.

First, the objects:

(That’s the Starship Enterprise.)

Plenty of cufflings examples on the net. Here are three:

Rhiodium Plated Cufflings Oval w/ Mother of Pearl -AJ123
Engraveable cufflings, well designed with pearl center (link)

STAINLESS STEEL MONT BLANC CUFFLINGS IN A BLACK PVD FINISH WITH A RUBBER INLAY (link)

Men’s-Cufflings (link)

In the last case, and in some others you can find, cufflings in a header occurs along with cufflinks in the copy.

The reinterpretation replaces the noun link with the suffix -ling. From Michael Quinion’s affixes site, the 9/23/08 entry for the suffix:

Forming nouns, often with diminutive or depreciatory implications.

[Old English or Old Norse.]

Nouns have been formed from other nouns, from adjectives, adverbs or verbs. In older formations, the sense is of a person or thing connected with the stem: foundling, hireling, nestling, suckling. In many cases the stem is rare or archaic and the link is now unclear: sibling originally meant a relative, from the Old English sib, related by descent; sterling, British money, derives from Middle English steorra, star, because some early Norman pennies bore a small star.

The ending has long had implications of smallness, especially when speaking of the young of animals or plants: duckling, gosling, fledgling, hatchling, oakling, spiderling, yearling. Occasionally terms are meant affectionately, as in darling (Old English dēore, beloved). More commonly, the associations are negative: underling, weakling, princeling, lordling, godling.

The suffix is now only used to make new words in this depreciatory sense, and not often even then: tycoonling, weedling (a person who is weedy, or weak of stature).

So, instead of being things that link the two parts of a (French) cuff, they’re little things on your cuffs. Even cute little things.

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