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misheard words


eggcorns = häufige Rechtschreibfehler, die aus einer Fehlinterpretation resultieren; Verhörer, Verballhornungen (z.B. Altersheimer für Alzheimer, Strebergarten für Schrebergarten)



“When people have misheard a word or phrase, they sometimes repeat it back incorrectly but not completely nonsensically. The term EGGCORN refers to this linguistic phenomenon.”

MasterClass (26 January 2022)

Did you

noun (humorous)

- a word or phrase that a person wrongly thinks is another word or phrase that sounds similar

- a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one which sounds very similar

- a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase either on its own or as part of a set expression

Oxford Languages / Cambridge Dictionary / Merriam-Webster


In September 2003 Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at Pennsylvania University, reported the case of a woman who had mistakenly substituted the phrase “egg corn” for the word “acorn”.

Lacking a word to describe such a mishearing, Geoffrey Pullum (another linguist) suggested using "eggcorn" itself as a label; it entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2010.


Can you guess the correct word or phrase which has been misheard in these common mistakes (answers below):

- do diligence

- ex-patriot

- for all intensive purposes

- far-gone conclusion

- financial heartship

- French benefit

- holland day sauce

- internally grateful

- lack toast intolerant

- mating name

- no stings attached

- old-timers’ disease

- physical year

- spread like wildflowers

- take with a grain assault

- two sense worth

- water turban

- zero-sum gain
- do diligence ~ due diligence

- ex-patriot ~ expatriate

- for all intensive purposes ~ intents and purposes

- far-gone conclusion ~ foregone conclusion

- financial heartship ~ financial hardship

- French benefit ~ fringe benefit

- holland day sauce ~ hollandaise sauce

- internally grateful ~ eternally grateful

- lack toast intolerant ~ lactose intolerant

- mating name ~ maiden name

- no stings attached ~ no strings attached

- old-timers’ disease ~ Alzheimer’s disease

- physical year ~ fiscal year

- spread like wildflowers ~ spread like wildfire

- take with a grain assault ~ take with a grain of salt

- two sense worth ~ two cents worth

- water turban ~ water turbine

- zero-sum gain ~ zero-sum game

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“My favourite EGGCORN is ‘Holland day sauce’, what’s yours?”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:


Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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