[Ads-l] YouTubery: "I guess you never heard of a _wheelbarrel_."

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 21 09:36:17 UTC 2019

The prescriptivists have the upper hand over the descriptivists in the
world of "wheelbarrows" and "wheelbarrels". The word "wheelbarrel" is
currently rejected as a mistake instead of being embraced as a

A sale conducted in  Cheshire, England in 1856 listed both
"wheelbarrels, and wheelbarrows". Perhaps the two terms referred to
distinct items at that time and place. Alternatively, the seller
wanted to connect with buyers by listing synonyms.

Date: March 1, 1856
Publication: Cheshire Observer
Location: Chester, Cheshire, England
Article: Sale by Mr. George Felton
Quote Page 2, Column 5
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
A great number of harrows, iron ploughs of the best make; long carts,
tumbrel carts, splendid new wagon, first rate water carts,
wheelbarrels, and wheelbarrows; a large quantity of gear of all
descriptions; two sets of handsomely brassmounted ride-and-drive
carriage harness, saddles, bridles, cloths, &c.; . . .
[End excerpt]

Here is a fun citation from 1856 describing a politician who may be
required to "wheel a barrel of apples on a wheel-barrow".

Date: August 7, 1856
Newspaper: Boston Press and Post
Newspaper Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Article: All Sorts of Paragraphs
Quote Page 1, Column 2
Database: GenealogyBank

[Begin excerpt]
Who will wheel the apples? It is said that Major Poore's wager has
been taken, namely--that if Fillmore does not receive more votes than
Fremont, in Massachusetts he, Poore, will wheel a barrel of apples on
a wheel-barrow from Newburyport to Boston, or, if Fillmore receives
the most, the taker of the bet shall convey the apples in the same way
from Boston to Newburyport.
[End excerpt]

The following 1898 citation employed "wheelbarrow" and "wheelbarrel"
in adjacent sentences. Yet, the two terms apparently referred to the
same object.

Date: October 16, 1898
Newspaper: The Cincinnati Enquirer
Newspaper Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Article: Street Talk
Quote Page 13, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
"If yer had a wheelbarrel we'd be all right," asserted the young man
who had delivered the guitar.

"Well, there's a wheelbarrow somewhere on the place. It's back by the stable."
[End excerpt]


On Sat, Apr 20, 2019 at 11:58 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 20, 2019 at 11:22 AM Mark Mandel <mark.a.mandel at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > I'd call "wheelbarrel" an *eggcorn*, not a folk etymology.
> Indeed, it was one of the earliest entries in the Eggcorn Database.
> https://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/10/barrel/
> ...linking to Arnold's Language Log post:
> http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001390.html
> ...which in turn references discussion of "wheelbarrel" on this list back
> in Aug. 2004.
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2004-August/thread.html#39929
> --bgz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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