Fwd: "fuse box" eggcorn?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 4 18:46:48 UTC 2009

At 1:45 AM -0700 5/4/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>Begin forwarded message:
>>From: Max Heiman
>>Date: May 3, 2009 7:59:52 PM PDT
>>To: zwicky at stanford.edu
>>Subject: "fuse box" eggcorn?
>>I thought I'd pass the following along.  News coverage of the recent
>>air force flyover of downtown Manhattan referred to the situation as
>>having "turned into a political fuse box," an expression I've never
>>heard and which doesn't make much sense to me.  (I think of a fuse
>>box like a relief valve, a device to keep things from blowing up.
>>Perhaps the writer meant it like a crackling, high-voltage
>>situation?)  The only google hits I get for "political fuse box" or
>>"turned into a * fuse box" are copies of the same single article.
>>Do you have any guess whether this is an eggcorn (and for what) or a
>>nonce coinage?  I'm just curious.  The article is here
>puzzling to me.  "fuse bomb' is close to 'fuse box", but doesn't make
>much more sense to me.  "flash point" makes more sense, but is
>phonologically very far from "fuse bomb".
>(the authors of the article are A. G. Sulzberger -- yes, the son of
>the publisher -- and Matthew L. Wald.)
Searching through the mental lexicon under "political f...", locating
"political football" and "political firestorm", and settling on
"political fusebox"?  I think "tinderbox" must be involved somehow,
and that is a metal box originally (though a different one, to be
sure).  Maybe "(political) tinderbox" + "(short) fuse"? Or
"(political) tinderbox" + "light(ing) the fuse?


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