Posted by: Jack Henry | March 30, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Eggcorns, the Later Years

I was reminded the other day of eggcorns, and it has been a few years since we talked about them. What are they? Here is the definition from Merriam-Webster:

An eggcorn is a word or phrase that is mistakenly used for another word or phrase because it sounds similar and seems logical or plausible. Take the things that fall from oak trees in the fall. They’re acorns, but they sometimes get called eggcorns. And why not? They’re kind of egg-shaped, and they are the metaphorical eggs from which new oak trees hatch—hence, eggcorn.

The term was coined by linguist Geoffrey Pullum on the Language Log blog back in 2003, and it’s been increasingly used in the years since.

My personal favorite is “escape goat” instead of “a scapegoat.” Partly because this is what I think of when I hear “escape goat”:

In honor of the getaway goat, I looked up another set of eggcorns. These are from, but I wasn’t able to include the list because we don’t have access to their website via work. You can always look it up from home, but in the meantime, here are some that I picked out:

Actual Word or Phrase Eggcorn
As dusk fell As dust fell
Biding my time Biting my time
Bonfire Bond fire
Chest of drawers Chester drawers
Silverware Civilware
YouTube Facetube
Generic brands Genetic
Growth spurt Growth sprout
Hand-me-downs Handy-downs
Happy as a clam Happy as a clown
Heimlich maneuver Heimlich remover
Sign your John Hancock Sign your John Henry [KC – Or your Jack Henry!]
Jumpstart Junk-start
Laptop Labtop [KC – The best lab tops are Olive and Mabel.]
Napkin Lapkin
Nip it in the bud Nip it in the butt
Nostrils Nose drills
Optical illusion Optical delusion
Prima donna Pre-Madonna
Self esteem Self of steam
Soap operas Soul poppers
Takes two to tango Takes two to tangle
Umbrella Underbrella
Varicose veins Very close veins
Windchill factor Windshield factor

I hope that you have a lovely Spring day and don’t need your underbrella!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives:


  1. You left out “bottles my mind” instead of “boggles my mind.”

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