OED definition of eggcorn is wrong

Mark Peters markpeters33 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Sep 16 15:34:16 UTC 2010

The key element of an eggcorn is that it's a *logical* mistake--it has to make
sense. That's what distinguishes it from a malapropism or mondegreen. When my
mom calls carpal tunnel syndrome "carnal tunnel-vision syndrome," that's no
eggcorn, because it makes no sense (it is awesome, though).

But the OED's definition (new this week) leaves this out: "An alteration of a
word or phrase through the mishearing or  reinterpretation of one or more of its
elements as a similar-sounding  word."

Arggh! That's a gigantic omission, isn't it? Or did I just put too much crack on
my corn flakes this morning? Maybe " reinterpretation" is supposed to cover the
logic part, but I don't know...

Ben, Arnold, others, what do you think?

On the bright side, it's lovely to see this 1844 use of "eggcorn" actually
meaning an acorn: "I hope you are as harty as you ust to be and that you have
plenty of egg  corn [acorn] bread which I cann not get her[e] and I hope to help
you  eat some of it soon."


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

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