[Ads-l] equine eggcorn

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Feb 23 22:10:12 EST 2021

In a skit on the CBC cable comedy show “The Baroness Van Sketch Show” tonight, one coffee shop employee explains to her fellow employee that she didn’t have time to shower that morning and so just gave herself "a horse bath".  Her comrade eventually sets her straight (“Oh, you mean like a “wh”, not an “h”), but I wondered if this misunderstanding is extant as an eggcorn.  Most hits, unsurprisingly, refer to protocols for washing horses, but there is one that provides the relevant definition for the eggcornish meaning:

Horse bath (HOORS-BAFF)
The phrase “taking a horse bath” has several meanings depending upon the context of its use. It can refer to literal bathing, often a quick splash of water without soap on the face and genital area.  Jan 24, 2016.  [interesting pronunciation guide too!]

And there are other apparently relevant hits, e.g.

washed my hair with cold water and took a "horse bath" because I woke up later than usual

in the winter I shower once a week no one notices it. however I'm not a fat guy. anyone ever heard of taking a horse bath every once in awhile

And a couple of hits that explain the reanalysis, e.g.

Years later, I mentioned to friends of mine that I didn’t always feel the need for a full shower each morning and that once in awhile, I would simply take a quick but effective whore’s bath. Later, the wife told me that her husband asked her that night what the hell I meant when I said I would take a "horse bath." I decided not to explain the difference, preferring to let him think that on occasion I had the uncanny need to roll in the dust to rid myself of fleas

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

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