Eggcorns on the net

Today’s “A.Word.A.Day” posting from Anu Garg is about the word 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”.


Coined by linguist Geoffrey Pullum (b. 1945) in 2003. From the substitution of the word acorn with eggcorn. Earliest documented use as a name for this phenomenon is from 2003, though the term eggcorn has been found going back as far as 1844, as “egg corn bread” for “acorn bread”. [That is, of course, not the technical term eggcorn, but an instance of the eggcorn eggcorn.]


“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.” (Bill & Rich Sones, “If Elevator Falls, Don’t Jump to Conclusions”, Salt Lake Telegram (Utah), Jul 3, 2008)

(Hat tip to Benita Bendon Campbell.)

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