Eggcorn: *flea market* > *flee market*

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 6 01:20:06 UTC 2008

Can we be sure this isn't just people spelling
the insect name as "flee"?  For such speakers, or
rather writers, it's not really an eggcorn, just
a misspelling, since no semantic reanalysis would
be involved, anymore than with "flee medicine"
(1050 ghits), "flees and ticks" (657), "lots of
flees" (794) and so on. A flee market would be
so-called because it has lots of flees.

Or maybe "flee market" isn't perceived as being
related to either fleas or fleeing.  There are
3650 ghits for "flee flicker", the tricky but
elegant pass play in football that shows up on a
lot of web-posted videos.  64,300 for "flea
flicker", but this may be a similar ratio to what
we find in the other cases.  It's pretty opaque
on either reading.


At 8:01 PM -0500 3/5/08, Damien Hall wrote:
>This is a copy of the post I've just made to the Eggcorn Forum:
>Spotted in today’s (5 March 2008) _Daily Pennsylvanian_:
>‘Prevor spoke about growth and celebrity licensing as well as his humble
>beginnings selling T-shirts in *flee markets*
>during high school. ’”When we had
>our booths at the *flee market*, we would climb on top of a van and yell and
>scream to the top of our lungs for people to buy our T-shirts,” Prevor said as
>he mounted a table in the mid-sized lecture
>hall. During Prevor’s undergraduate
>career at Penn, the business broke out of its *flee market* roots into a
>storefront venue inside Houston Hall.’
>from Bianca González, ‘Steve & Barry’s CEO back
>at Penn’, _Daily Pennsylvanian_,
>5 March 2008, p4:
>The semantic connection between _flea market_ and _flee market_ could be that
>these markets are places that people are hurrying through and making hurried
>purchases (often true, given their size), or else that vendors have to compete
>very hard in order to get potential customers to
>buy from them before they flee
>out of reach. This second analysis makes more sense in the context (see in
>particular the second instance above). Either way, an eggcorn, I think. It’s
>relatively common: about 89,400 ghits.
>Reflecting the relative uncommonness of the
>ending _-ea_ in English, this is the
>third eggcorn in the Forum to feature this confusion:
>plea bargain > flee bargain:
>flea powder > flee powder:
>Damien Hall
>University of Pennsylvania
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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