kneck and kneck

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Sep 2 23:59:48 UTC 2007

At 6:30 PM -0400 9/2/07, James Harbeck wrote:
>Just saw the following on a forum for runners:
>Still I'm going pretty fast and I'm kneck and kneck with another girl
>in the lead.
>I thought, WTF? How is "neck and neck" not obvious? I Googled it and
>got 580 hits for "kneck and kneck," most (not surprisingly) to do
>with sports.
>Now, what the heck is a kneck? I wonder, if I were to ask someone who
>spelled it that way, whether they would a) not really know, b) give
>me some sort of definition -- conjectured or who knows -- or c) think
>that's how "neck" is spelled.
>I can't call this an eggcorn! More like an eighckhuorn!
>So I Google "kneck" and I find that there are also "kneck ties"! 255
>hits for "kneck tie" and 230 for "kneck ties". And I check the
>defnition of "kneck". It's a nautical term: "The twisting of a rope
>or cable, as it is running out." And how many people would know this,
>and what could it possible have to do with being evenly side-by-side
>in a race? Or with ties! It seems to be another example of people
>seeing a weird usage and assuming it must be correct -- but who
>started it?
>Has anyone else seen this?
I hadn't, but note 660 ghits for "pain in the kneck" and 120 for
"sore kneck", so I don't think it's restricted to a few frozen
phrases.  In other words, I'd go with (c), and bring in (OK, Jerry,
as a blend if you like) influence or "contamination" from _knee_, the
general idea being that there's a counterintuitive spelling of
body-parts that begin with /n/.  There are even 18 ghits for "broken
knose", although curiously none at all for "stuffed knose", maybe
because it does somehow look like a deli item.


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