Posted by: Jack Henry | February 27, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Eggcorns

Good morning!

Yesterday I wrote about the term “sea change,” and as someone reminded me, my misinterpretation of the phrase as “seed change” is called an “eggcorn.” We’ve talked about these before. The term is fairly new and it comes from a discussion about a woman who misheard the word acorn as eggcorn.

It’s not the same thing as a mondegreen (misheard song lyric) but it is similar. Today I will treat you with a few animal-themed eggcorns from the Eggcorn database.

They are presented in the following order:

<actual term> à <misheard term>

Definition of term or idiom (from Merriam-Webster or The Free Dictionary)

Examples using the eggcorn and where the examples were found

stark raving à stark raven

Definition: completely crazy; out of control

· Monsters from the Id have driven them stark raven mad. (sci.sceptic)

crosier à crow’s ear

Definition: The hooked staff carried by a bishop as a symbol of pastoral office.

· The 84-year-old John Paul was laid out in Clementine Hall, dressed in white and red vestments; his head covered with a white bishop’s miter and propped up on three dark gold pillows. Tucked under his left arm was the silver staff, called the crow’s ear, which he had carried in public. (International Herald Tribune, Apr 4, 2005)

Like a bull in a china shop à Like a bowl in a china shop

Definition: A very clumsy creature in a delicate situation; careless behavior in a sensitive situation.

· And she’s described in reports as a bowl in a china shop, but somebody of unassailable high ethics, and also as a direct, directly reporting to the then chief financial officer. (, rush transcript, January 16, 2002)

Put the cart before the horse à Put the cat before the horse

Definition: To do things in an order that is not conventionally considered logical; to do things the wrong way.

· A population policy that is not predicated on the result of a credible census, in our view, is tantamount to putting the cat before the horse. (, November 16, 2004)

· But perhaps to expect that the Attorney-General’s Office and the Government in general can eradicate corruption is to put the cat before the horse. (Daily Nation [Kenya], September 13, 1998)

scapegoat à escape goat

[KC – I love this one. I imagine making my getaway from the crime scene on my escape goat!]

Definition: A person who is unfairly blamed for something others have done.

· This replacement was an escape goat for a vindictive coward. (The Writer’s Association)

· In the eyes of most Somalis, these warlords are using Ethiopia as an escape goat to achieve their political agenda… (Somali News)

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor


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