• Culture

The Trickiest Eggcorns In The English Language

List RulesVote up the most confusing mispronounced and misspelled words and phrases in the English language.

What's an eggcorn and why would an eggcorn database or eggcorn list exist at all? Well, the English language is tricky and full of words and phrases that are easily mispronounced or misspelled. Heck, just about any language is tricky and full of nuance. There's a great video of Stephen Fry talking about language being an evolving thing, and that more pedantic folks shouldn't be so hard up to correct people. Many agree, but this list of eggcorns is something fun to think about!

Okay, so what is an eggcorn? I's a phrase or a word that, through misspelling, mispronunciation, or a simple misunderstanding of its meaning, has been changed to an incorrect phrase. In fact, the word eggcorn is itself an eggcorn: the linguist who coined the term chose that word after speaking with someone who said "eggcorn" instead of "acorn." 

So, we thought it'd be fun for linguaphiles to look at and rank the trickiest and most confusing eggcorns that sometimes trip up even the most avid grammar and language lovers. Some of these mistakes are just straight up wrong and get the meaning mixed up. Some are honest mistakes that most people rarely challenge. Some, interestingly, are phrases that, when you really think about it, still hold the spirit of the original meaning. '

The point is, this is all in good fun. Haters to the left! Let's enjoy the linguistic mistakes, poetry, and nightmares of eggcorns together.
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  • 1
    3,583
    1,884

    Bold-Faced Lie

    Correct term: "bald-faced lie." People argue about this, as either way is metaphorical.
  • 2
    3,408
    1,837

    Chomp at the Bit

    Correct term: "champ at the bit." This is what a horse does when they have a bit in their mouth.
  • 3
    2,630
    1,581

    Jerry-Rigged

    Correct term: "jury-rigged," which describes creating or repairing a device using makeshift materials.

  • 4
    3,379
    2,069
    Rick de Jong added

    Could Of

    Correct term: "could have," or more commonly, "could've."

  • 5
    2,137
    1,338
    chantellebelle added

    Wet Your Appetite

    Correct term: "whet your appetite," meaning to stimulate your appetite
  • 6
    2,792
    1,878

    All Intensive Purposes

    Correct term: "all intents and purposes," meaning "encompassing all desires and objectives."
  • 7
    1,955
    1,341

    Towing the Line

    Correct term: "toeing the line," meaning you're stepping in line to conform to whatever outside influence you're dealing with.
  • 8
    1,682
    1,226

    Coming Down the Pipe

    Correct term: "coming down the pike," short for turnpike, another word for "highway."
  • 9
    1,493
    1,100

    Baited Breath

    Correct term: "bated breath," meaning breath that is bated "in great suspense."
  • 10
    2,466
    1,868

    Duck Tape

    Correct term: "duct tape." Duck Tape is a brand of this type of tape.
  • 11
    1,978
    1,593

    Expresso

    Correct term: "espresso." This is just a simple pronunciation and spelling error.
  • 12
    1,234
    1,005

    Rebel Rouser

    Correct term: "rabble rouser," someone who, y'know, rouses a rabble. (Just remember: every time there's a mob in South Park, they always yell "rabble rabble rabble!")
  • 13
    1,318
    1,081

    Flush Out

    Correct term: "flesh out," in the context of "building out from a small idea." (Some people use "flush out," but that should be in the context of "getting something out of a place.")
  • 14
    1,501
    1,247

    Ice Tea

    Correct term: "iced tea," which is to say, tea that has been chilled by ice. ("Ice tea" means "completely frozen tea.")
  • 15
    1,113
    956

    Ex-Patriot

    Correct term: "expatriate," meaning someone who is living outside of their home country. (They could be an ex-patriot, but that's rarely (if ever) what we mean.)
  • 16
    1,021
    909

    Last Rights

    Correct term: "last rites," the final rituals given to a person before they die, so that they may go to Heaven.
  • 17
    1,060
    967

    On the Lamb

    Correct term: "on the lam." When you're going off the grid and escaping the Man.
  • 18
    922
    853

    A Hair's Breath

    Correct term: "a hair's breadth," as hair is very thin, so it's a thin distance between one thing and another.
  • 19
    747
    697

    Daring-Do

    Correct term: "derring-do," to suggest action in a heroic context. ("Daring-do" doesn't often get corrected as it still fits, in a way.)
  • 20
    1,018
    1,032

    Chock It Up

    Correct term: "chalk it up," from old-timey England, where chalk was used to record debts on a board. (The meaning, obviously, has changed immensely.)
  • 21
    946
    1,036

    Give Free Range

    Correct term: "give free rein," allowing someone to do what they want. "Range" still implies boundaries.
  • 22
    824
    902

    All for Not

    Correct term: "all for naught," meaning what you're doing would be for nothing.
  • 23
    932
    1,050

    Pre-Madonna

    Correct term: "prima donna," Italian for first lady. (In American culture, it also means someone with an inflated view of their talent.)
  • 24
    679
    837

    Pass Mustard

    Correct term: "pass muster," the ability to be satisfactory with an outside entity.
  • 25
    899
    1,150

    Escape Goat

    Correct term: "scapegoat," meaning a person who's been intentionally blamed for misdeeds they did not commit. (Comes from the Bible, wherein a Jewish priest had absolved his people of their sins by placing them upon a goat.)