Eggcorn: 'in X's reclining years'

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Dec 25 22:33:50 UTC 2007

A good linguist's instinct never rests, so here's today's report.  You wait for
an eggcorn for ages and then three possible ones come along in two days.

In church this morning, the lady talking about the charity that the collection
was going to said that it was going to help people 'in their reclining years',
for more standard 'declining'.  I should think this was an eggcorn:  the two
words are phonetically similar, and the semantic relation is that in one's
declining years (retirement, for most people), one might reasonably be expected
to do more reclining.  Perhaps there's also the sense of 'gradually lying down /
fading away' in 'reclining' ~ 'declining'?  A Google search on

in "reclining years"

gets about 2,430 ghits.

Merry Christmas!

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

The American Dialect Society -

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