a well-traveled eggcorn ("Roaming Catholic")

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Oct 21 14:55:29 UTC 2010

 From Dorothy L. Sayers, _An Unnatural Death_ (1927):

"But indeed, sir," she added, "if you was quick, you might find her
up at the church. She often drops in there to say her prayers like.
Not a respectful way to approach a place of worship to my mind, do
you think so yourself, sir? Popping in and out on a week-day, the
same as if it was a friend's house. And coming home from Communion as
cheerful as anything and ready to laugh and make jokes. I don't see
as how we was meant to make an ordinary thing of religion that way-
so disrespectful and nothing uplifting to the 'art about it. But
there! we all 'as our failings, and Miss Climpson is a nice lady and
that I must say, even if she is a Roaming Catholic or next door to

Lord Peter thought that Roaming Catholic was rather an appropriate
name for the more ultramontane section of the High Church party. At
the moment, however, he felt he could not afford time for religious
discussion, and set off for the church in quest of Miss Climpson.

Googling "Roaming Catholic" picks up a couple of relevant hits (cf.
buried in an avalanche of puns (cf. the Roamin' Catholic Choir) and
jokes. According to various sites, Jackie Gleason described himself
as one.  But for Mrs. Budge, the first speaker in the (admittedly
fictitious) exchange above, it's clearly an eggcorn, and FWIW it's
not in the database.  (Maybe too rare?)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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