This site is devoted to collecting the kind of unusual English spellings that have come to be called eggcorns. Eggcorn, the word, is a coinage that goes back to the excellent Language Log. The About page retraces the history of the term and offers more information on how this site came to be.

The Eggcorn Database went public on February 15, 2005. It is a collaborative site in the sense that several contributors have access to it. In addition to me, the most active are the long-standing Language Log contributors Arnold Zwicky and Ben Zimmer. The Eggcorn Database has a forum now, with its own space for your contributions and submissions. Feel free to register and join in.

-- Chris Waigl, 2006-06-20

first of all » firstable

Variant(s):  secondable, thirdable

Classification: English – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • Firstable, the term “indian” and christianity were imposed in Peru through blood and fire by European conquerors. (Marxism mailing list, Jan. 28, 1996)
  • Here is an essay written as part of the admissions procedure for our University Honors Program… “Firstable, to stay away from the reality of those traps that people are facing, I would be felt some classes if I weren’t focus.” (HAPP mailing list, Oct. 26, 2000)
  • I have many ways to explorate but firstable, I would like to work on relations between the “recall” of roman empire and colonial theories / words / language. (H-West-Africa mailing list, Mar. 3, 2002)
  • Well firstable thanks so much to you and to Wuwei Liang because it is a very helpful tool. (VMD mailing list, Nov. 8, 2005)
  • Well, firstable, it was very boring. (Freshman Seminar @ Baruch College, Dec. 3, 2009)
  • Firstable you have to know that the room and bathroom were very dirty and unhealthy. (TripAdvisor, Jan. 8, 2013)
  • Firstable, you’re asked to pay your room in advance. (TripAdvisor, Oct. 3, 2013)

Analyzed or reported by:

This eggcorn may be more common among non-native speakers who lack a phonemic distinction between /b/ and /v/ in their L1. (See Wikipedia on the ban/van merger.)

In the Eggcorn Forum, alexkrich writes: “This seems to be a word that is still recognized as incorrect by most people, and is mainly used by non-native English speakers unfamiliar with the phrase ‘first of all.’ This is compounded by the dubious construction ’second of all,’ which suggests to the casual listener that ‘-able’ is an ordinal suffix.”

The Stranger’s Josh Feit writes: “There’s a slightly new meaning here. ‘Firstable,’ I think, could be a noun that means the item that comes after the expression ‘First of all.’ Example: The case against Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was compelling and lengthy. The fact that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeada is firstable.”

BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick observes that “’secondable’ is also becoming a thing” on Twitter, but “luckily, ‘thirdable’ hasn’t caught on just yet” (though it is attested).

On Metro.co.uk, Alison Lynch notes that “we even have a Twitter account @1stofall_ that corrects people when they use ‘firstable’ by mistake.”

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2014/11/12 |

dust » dusk

Chiefly in:   dusk off

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • An opportunity for me to dusk off the thesis and provide my answer! (Facebook comment, May 15, 2014)
  • It has been a long time since I dusked off the Pike tackle. (carpcoarseandswansea.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html)
  • So I dusked off the bike and went for the first roost of the year. (www.johnchow.com/rooooooooooost/)
  • I had decided to dusk off my black leather jacket, in an effort to fit in with the theme of the film. (www.brightyoungscribes.com/behind-the-scenes-record-store-day/)

I wonder if this is analysed as bringing something out of the twilight?

| Comments Off link | entered by dadge, 2014/05/15 |

said » set

Chiefly in:   when/after all is set and done

Classification: English – /t/-flapping – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • As much as a foot of snow is possible after all is set and done. (The Denver Channel, Apr. 14, 2009)
  • When all was set and done, the missed shot didn’t mean anything but the impact from the opposing crowd was felt throughout every inch of Crisler Arena. (The Michigan Daily, Feb. 11, 2010)
  • There is no deal in place but when all is set and done, something expected to happen after the Academy Awards, Sorkin’s project is on track to get a pilot order by HBO. (Deadline Hollywood, Jan. 23, 2011)
  • After all is set and done, iOS 5 seems to work just fine, according to Mills. (TechLeash, Oct. 26, 2011)
  • By the time all is set and done over 2 feet is possible for the hardest hit areas. (News 4 Tucson, Dec. 13, 2011)
  • After all was set and done in Newark, NJ on Thursday night at the 2012 NBA Draft, most of the headlines left happy with their new hat, new boss and most of all, a soon-to-be-epic bank account. (SB Nation Atlanta, June 30, 2012)

Analyzed or reported by:

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2012/07/02 |

lease » leash

Chiefly in:   new leash on life

Classification: English – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • But it could give the neocons a new leash on life, a way to invigorate their exhausted ideological engines. (Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, July 9, 2007)
  • 38-year-old, mother-of-three Lauren Bays revels in her new body and new leash on life after undergoing “mommy makeover” plastic surgery. (ABC News, July 8, 2011)
  • Baldur’s Gate is getting a new leash on life from Overhaul Games with an enhanced edition coming this summer to the iPad and OS X. (Technology Tell, Apr. 6, 2012)
  • Commercial radio seemed dead, but college radio gave it a new leash on life. (Radio Survivor, Apr. 23, 2012)
  • Now Pacquiao has a new leash on life and a new found spiritual guidance that has changed his life for the better. (The Sports Mistress, June 9, 2012)
  • This gesture reduced stress, allowed me to open my heart to greater spontaneity and a new leash on life. (Dream Builders Australia, June 22, 2012)

Analyzed or reported by:

This often appears as an intentional dog-related pun, as in the song “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along” from The Muppet Movie (used by Rowlf the Dog).

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2012/07/01 |

single » signal

Chiefly in:   signal out

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Sure, there are some annoying past-bonus contract issues involved, and some of the individuals signaled out for retention may not be the right ones to get them. (Roy C. Smith, Forbes.com, Mar. 17, 2009)
  • While the president may hope for a short bankruptcy, it may not be that simple, especially with those creditors that Obama signaled out for not cooperating. (Jake Tapper et al., ABC News, Apr. 30, 2009)
  • We, the boys, were cruel to each other, a prerequisite for getting through the school day — either it was you who would get the leather strap or the petrified boy sitting next to you, and his being signaled out for the bout of perversity gave you a reprieve, if only a temporary one. (Padraig O'Malley, Boston Globe, May 27, 2009)
  • But in a parting political shot, he signaled out Republican leadership who he said have promised nothing but more “heated rhetoric.” (Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 30, 2010)
  • First it was the far right, which signaled out “Spongebob” for promoting a gay and global-warming agendas. (Daniel Frankel, Reuters/The Wrap, Sep. 11, 2011)
  • District Attorney Mike Ramsey refiled the child abuse counts only against Bram, who asserted she was being signaled out for breast-feeding toddler Thor and newborn Zeus while using pot. (Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, June 12, 2012)
  • He told the commission that 70% of campaign money is not reported at the provincial level – without signaling out any political party. (Michael Qaqish, iPolitics.ca, June 26, 2012)

Analyzed or reported by:

Pat Schwieterman notes that H. W. Fowler long ago warned of confusion between single and signal. From the 1944 American edition of Modern English Usage:

Unfortunately, there is just nearness enough in meaning between the verb single on the one hand &, on the other, the adjective signal & the verb signalize to make it easy for the uncharitable to suspect writer rather than printer; & therefore especial care is called for, as with deprecate & depreciate.

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2012/06/28 |