more of What is this?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Jun 15 21:58:38 UTC 2005

On Wed, 15 Jun 2005 14:16:21 -0700, Arnold M. Zwicky
<zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:

>On Jun 15, 2005, at 1:50 PM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>> On Wed, 15 Jun 2005 11:27:32 -0700, Arnold M. Zwicky
>> <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
>>> On Jun 14, 2005, at 5:10 PM, Alan Baragona wrote:
>>>> "Free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have
>>>> no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat." (Sept. 17, 2004)
>>> looks like a substitution blend, with the "whim" of "at a whim"
>>> substituting for the "drop" of "at the drop of a hat".
>> Reminiscent of the idiom blend "on a whim and a prayer", combining
>> "on a whim" with "on a wing and a prayer". This one is a bit
>> eggcornier because of the phonetic similarity of /wIm/ and /wIN/.
>> Nonetheless I marked it questionable in the Eggcorn Database
>> (perhaps there should be an "idiom blend" category):
>> <>.
>oh no, mr. ben!  let's not expand to idiom blends.  it would be like
>being poised on a slippery edge.

True, including each and every idiom blend would be going above and beyond
the pale.  But there are some eggcornish idiom blends involving
substitutions of phonetically similar elements (e.g. "a flaw in the
ointment"), and it might be useful to categorize them together.

--Ben Zimmer

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