bombé » Bombay

Chiefly in:   Bombay chest

Classification: English – cross-language

Spotted in the wild:

  • Because Trust is a commodity. Very, very expensive. Not like a plasma TV screen, or a Hummer. But like a great-grandmother’s Bombay chest, or a Civil War journal. (link)
  • These guys are in my opinion on par with the masters in furniture making from the past. […] Randy O’Donnell (what a great Bombay chest he makes) (
  • This is a French Bombay Chest with a cream and cocoa beveled marble top (classified ad)
  • Absolutely gorgeous! The chest is created from solid wood and MDF and features resin legs. This hand painted design gives this Bombay chest the perfect touch of detail that your room needs. (

Analyzed or reported by:

A page on interior decoration at explains:

> “Bombé Chest”
>Definition: A bombé chest is a cabinet with a bulge or serpentine front (and sometimes sides), usually with drawers.
>Pronunciation: bom-bay’
> Common Misspellings: Bombay Chest

The French word _bombé_, which can of course be spelled _bombe_ in English, means “curved outward”.

| 1 comment | link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/07/18 |

fait » fate

Chiefly in:   fate accompli

Classification: English – cross-language

Spotted in the wild:

  • She asked Dr. Rabianski to head a subcommittee to investigate the issue. Dr. Rabianski agreed and asked that the Committee discuss the issue even if it is a fate accompli. (Georgia State University Senate, P&D Committee minutes, Sep. 23, 1999)
  • Thus a social order dictated by the ‘free’ market and yet, ironically, ‘determined’ by the globalised capital is fast imposing itself as a fate accompli. (Tribune of India, Oct. 14, 2001)
  • “My reaction was they’re just giving them more time so they can take over more, that the military wing of the opposition can take over more ground in Haiti and create a fate accompli,” Kurzban said. (Democracy Now!, Feb. 25, 2004)
  • Many thousands have worked tirelessly for decades in opposing (and fighting against) a merger with India or Pakistan as a fate-accompli. (Pakistan Observer, Apr. 28, 2005)

Analyzed or reported by:

A particularly apt cross-linguistic eggcorn, since a _fait accompli_ seems “fated” to occur.

| 3 comments | link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/07/18 |

mano a mano » mano-on-mano

Classification: English – cross-language

Spotted in the wild:

  • And get ready for some fireworks between two of the most scintillating rookies in the NBA next week because Cleveland and Chicago face-off twice, meaning we get to watch Dajuan Wagner and Jay “Don’t Call Me Jason” Williams go mano-on-mano. (CBS SportsLine, Nov. 30, 2002)
  • “Print this,” Chief Warner said. “The retiring fire chief, who is a senior citizen, is hereby challenging the younger police chief to a nine-hole match at the course of his choice, mano-on-mano,” with the police/fire trophy on the line. (East Bay (RI) Newspapers, Oct. 16, 2003)
  • Surely Cheney considered the Rocky option before using the F-word to tell Sen. Pat Leahy what the VEEP thought of the Vermonter’s constant criticisms. I do not claim to be an expert on the F-word or its usage. Still, I would have say that Flipping the bird would have been a truly bush-league gesture in a small group of senators and one Frazzled vice president. This was mano-on-mano. It required more than symbolism. (Augusta Free Press, June 29, 2004)
  • I spoke to Mike D’Antoni as he just came out here, the Suns head coach — he said, “We are playing mano on mano.” (ESPN sideline reporter Jim Gray during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals, May 28, 2005)
  • “Look man we talk bout this later, mano on mano. You dig?” Larry offered, hoping to quell the tension. (The Basketball Team #4 by Parker/Paladin, 1995)

Larry Horn on the American Dialect Society listserv (link) and Arnold Zwicky on the Language Log (link) have already discussed how _mano a mano_ has been reinterpreted to mean ‘man to man’ or ‘man on man,’ rather than the original Spanish meaning of ‘hand to hand.’ The form _mano-on-mano_ turns this covert eggcorn into an overt one.

| 3 comments | link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/05/30 |

laissez-faire » lazy-fare

Variant(s):  lazy fare

Classification: English – cross-language

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Linda’s dream for the IE Standard is to put in it only what is needed by at least one destination. She wants at all costs to avoid the T. G. lazy-fare to pass through and let the destination figure out what to do.” (Stanford interoffice memo, 17 December 2004)
  • “Lazy-Fare Economics. If you’ll permit me to diverge from the ever-so-interesting topic of the social mal-adjustments and sexual deviancies of…” (link)
  • “Lazy Fare Capitalism is not enough. In our collaboration called government we must be a responsible consumer, employer and…” (link)

The Stanford memo text was supplied to me by Terry Moore. Google provides a few hundred examples.

The idea of laziness, in the sense of ‘taking it easy’, does carry over from “laissez-faire”.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/05/07 |

salchow » sowchow

Classification: English – cross-language – vocalized /l/

Spotted in the wild:

  • I’m doing a tripel Sowchow, toe and loop. (link)
  • There are different types of jumps in figure skating a edge jump and pick jump a pick jump is a toe loop, flip and lutze, some edge jumps are waltz jump axel sowchow and loop. (link)

This is a rarer variant of the _salchow » sowcow_ eggcorn. See that entry for further remarks.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/04/01 |