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.
Bold-Faced LieCorrect term: "bald-faced lie." People argue about this, as either way is metaphorical.
Chomp at the BitCorrect term: "champ at the bit." This is what a horse does when they have a bit in their mouth.
Correct term: "jury-rigged," which describes creating or repairing a device using makeshift materials.
- Rick de Jong added
Correct term: "could have," or more commonly, "could've."
- chantellebelle added
Wet Your AppetiteCorrect term: "whet your appetite," meaning to stimulate your appetite
All Intensive PurposesCorrect term: "all intents and purposes," meaning "encompassing all desires and objectives."
Towing the LineCorrect term: "toeing the line," meaning you're stepping in line to conform to whatever outside influence you're dealing with.
Coming Down the PipeCorrect term: "coming down the pike," short for turnpike, another word for "highway."
Baited BreathCorrect term: "bated breath," meaning breath that is bated "in great suspense."
Duck TapeCorrect term: "duct tape." Duck Tape is a brand of this type of tape.
ExpressoCorrect term: "espresso." This is just a simple pronunciation and spelling error.
Rebel RouserCorrect 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!")
Flush OutCorrect 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.")
Ice TeaCorrect term: "iced tea," which is to say, tea that has been chilled by ice. ("Ice tea" means "completely frozen tea.")
Ex-PatriotCorrect 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.)
Last RightsCorrect term: "last rites," the final rituals given to a person before they die, so that they may go to Heaven.
On the LambCorrect term: "on the lam." When you're going off the grid and escaping the Man.
A Hair's BreathCorrect term: "a hair's breadth," as hair is very thin, so it's a thin distance between one thing and another.
Daring-DoCorrect term: "derring-do," to suggest action in a heroic context. ("Daring-do" doesn't often get corrected as it still fits, in a way.)
Chock It UpCorrect term: "chalk it up," from old-timey England, where chalk was used to record debts on a board. (The meaning, obviously, has changed immensely.)
Give Free RangeCorrect term: "give free rein," allowing someone to do what they want. "Range" still implies boundaries.
All for NotCorrect term: "all for naught," meaning what you're doing would be for nothing.
Pre-MadonnaCorrect term: "prima donna," Italian for first lady. (In American culture, it also means someone with an inflated view of their talent.)
Pass MustardCorrect term: "pass muster," the ability to be satisfactory with an outside entity.
Escape GoatCorrect 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.)