Culture The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language  

Logan Rapp
6.2k votes 572 voters 20.4k views 54 items

List Rules Upvote 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.
list ordered by
1
169 81
Chomp at the Bit is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Chomp at the Bit
Correct term: "champ at the bit." This is what a horse does when they have a bit in their mouth.
2
143 74
Bold-Faced Lie is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Bold-Faced Lie
Correct term: "bald-faced lie." People argue about this, as either way is metaphorical.
3
155 100
All Intensive Purposes is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
All Intensive Purposes
Correct term: "all intents and purposes," meaning "encompassing all desires and objectives."
4
115 83
Towing the Line is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Towing the Line
Correct term: "toeing the line," meaning you're stepping in line to conform to whatever outside influence you're dealing with.
5
62 34
Wet Your Appetite is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
chantellebelle added Wet Your Appetite
Correct term: "whet your appetite," meaning to stimulate your appetite
6
46 20
Jerry-Rigged is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Jerry-Rigged

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

7
85 60
Baited Breath is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Baited Breath
Correct term: "bated breath," meaning breath that is bated "in great suspense."
8
90 66
Flush Out is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
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.")
9
119 96
Expresso is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Expresso
Correct term: "espresso." This is just a simple pronunciation and spelling error.
10
77 63
Rebel Rouser is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
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!")
11
77 63
Chock It Up is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
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.)
12
100 89
Duck Tape is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Duck Tape
Correct term: "duct tape." Duck Tape is a brand of this type of tape.
13
84 73
On the Lamb is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
On the Lamb
Correct term: "on the lam." When you're going off the grid and escaping the Man.
14
64 53
Coming Down the Pipe is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Coming Down the Pipe
Correct term: "coming down the pike," short for turnpike, another word for "highway."
15
69 60
Ex-Patriot is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
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
71 69
Give Free Range is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Give Free Range
Correct term: "give free rein," allowing someone to do what they want. "Range" still implies boundaries.
17
90 100
Escape Goat is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
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.)
18
71 81
Pre-Madonna is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Pre-Madonna
Correct term: "prima donna," Italian for first lady. (In American culture, it also means someone with an inflated view of their talent.)
19
60 68
Ice Tea is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Ice Tea
Correct term: "iced tea," which is to say, tea that has been chilled by ice. ("Ice tea" means "completely frozen tea.")
20
56 63
Last Rights is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Last Rights
Correct term: "last rites," the final rituals given to a person before they die, so that they may go to Heaven.
21
46 51
Collaborating Evidence is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Collaborating Evidence
Correct term: "corroborating evidence," evidence that gives support to a statement or theory. (Evidence doesn't make collaborative decisions.)
22
48 54
Pass Mustard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Pass Mustard
Correct term: "pass muster," the ability to be satisfactory with an outside entity.
23
53 62
Laughing Stalk is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Laughing Stalk
Correct term: "laughing stock." "Stocks" were places of punishment and this phrase implies punishment via ridicule.
24
65 79
Take It for Granite is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
Take It for Granite
Correct term: "taken/take it for granted." Who wants to take granite?
25
47 55
All for Not is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Trickiest Eggcorns in the English Language
All for Not
Correct term: "all for naught," meaning what you're doing would be for nothing.