I have just discovered the wonderful world of eggcorns. There is a database devoted to these linguistic exotica. I’ve put a link to it in the sidebar. An eggcorn is a malapropism of a particular sort. It is both phonetically and semantically motivated. The name comes from the use of eggcorn as a mistake for acorn. Not only does it sound like the correct word, the seed part of an acorn does indeed look a bit eggy. It is not actually very easy to decide whether a particular mistake is really an eggcorn. Here are a couple I have come across:
- tendril for tendon
- floriblunder for floribunda
Borussia Rose, a modern floribunda
GNU Free Documentation License: Kurt Stueber
The first of these, I would argue, is a genuine eggcorn. The two words do sound alike and they describe things of similar shape. This one was overheard in a pub.
The second I’m not so sure of. It was told to me by a friend and perpetrated by a relative of his who was complaining that the roses in question were shedding petals all over the place and making a mess of her tidy lawn. So maybe the flowers were a mistake. This one doesn’t work in all accents of English, of course.