Topsy » top seed

Chiefly in:   grow like top seed

Classification: English – final d/t-deletion – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • “That’s what’s insidious about club drugs,” he says. “One: We didn’t recognize the problem. Two: It’s growing like top seed.” (Orlando Weekly, July 26, 2000)
  • The Amado Territory Ranch is anchored by an 11-room bed and breakfast inn, Amado Territory Inn, that has spectacular views and serene natural surroundings. The rest of the land was quickly leased by other vendors. “It just grew like top seed,” Art Gould said. (Arizona Daily Star, Jan. 5, 2004)
  • In fact, these grow ops, which are fuelled by organized crime, are growing like top seed right now under the current law, which criminalizes any kind of possession or trafficking of marijuana. (Parliament of Canada, Edited Hansard, Mar. 8, 2004)
  • “The commandos and the public order brigades sort of grew like top seed, very quickly, without much control, and without much training,” the American commander said. (International Herald Tribune / New York Times, Dec. 29, 2005)
  • [Robert Altman:] I get a bunch of actors together, I say, “Let’s do this—you be this character; oh, you want to do that? Okay.” It kind of grows like top seed. (Time Out New York, June 8-14, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

The original expression is “just grew like Topsy,” referring to Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, who “jes grew.” As the original referent of “Topsy” becomes less and less familiar, the term has been reanalyzed by some as “top seed,” which sounds like something that might grow quickly.

| 2 comments | link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2006/08/10 |

landline » LAN line

Classification: English – final d/t-deletion

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Barbara Wallraff (Atlantic Monthly "Word Court" column for September 2006)

Wallraff reports:

Suzanne Staszak-Silva, of Scotch Plains, N.J., writes: “My husband and I have a dispute regarding the use of the term landline. When people receive or make calls on a cellular phone but decide they would like to take the call on a phone connected to the wall via a phone jack, they usually refer to this phone as a landline. My husband says this is incorrect and the right term is LAN (local-area network) line. I say he’s wrong. I think people use landline to denote a phone that is connected to the large brown poles that line our streets, and that LAN line refers to computer connections. Who is correct?”

You are. Anyone who doesn’t want to call a phone line a phone line ought to call it a WAN (wide-area network) line. And thanks for the new eggcorn.


This one is not easy to search for, because “LAN line” is a high-frequency expression, abbreviating “local area network line”, a line (telephone line or cable) serving a local area network; such connections involve lines only indirectly, usually wirelessly, rather than having computers directly plugged into a phone line.

As for Wallraff’s advice, anyone who wants to refer to a phone directly connected to a phone line should call it a landline phone. WAN lines are something else.

In any case, Staszak-Silva’s husband has improved on “landline”, with its unclear connection to land, by eggcorning it to “LAN line”, using a term he’s familiar with.

| 7 comments | link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2006/08/09 |

offended » offened

Classification: English – questionable – final d/t-deletion

Spotted in the wild:

  • Thanks to everyone for all the kind words about the NYT article and the move. And don’t be offened if I don’t get back to you right away. (link)
  • Vix, I apologize to you and any one else who was offened by my use of a slur to describe illegal immigrants (link)

[Edited by Ben Zimmer, 5 June 06: Marked questionable, since it’s unclear whether this is categorizable as an eggcorn. It would appear to be more of a back-formation, reanalyzing offend as offen + -ed. (Compare, for instance, the word mix, a historical back-formation from mixt.)]

| 4 comments | link | entered by Lee Rudolph, 2006/06/03 |

lost » loss

Chiefly in:   no love loss

Classification: English – final d/t-deletion – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • Now naturally, the Shiites, as you were saying earlier, have no love loss for the Iraqi leader President Saddam Hussein. (CNN transcript, Apr. 2, 2003)
  • For Red Sox fans, especially in New England, there is no love loss between the two teams. (New Paltz Oracle, Oct. 16, 2003)
  • Those games are always competitive and fiery and there is certainly no love loss between us. (Amherst College Athletics, Mar. 10, 2005)
  • No love loss between Williams and Sharapova. (Edinburgh News, June 29, 2005)
  • Really, no love loss between the two of you certainly now. (CNN transcript, Oct. 12, 2005)
  • Sobule has no love loss for the Bush administration. (WorldNetDaily, Feb. 16, 2006)
  • No love loss for Zhang Ziyi in Hong Kong. (USA Today, Mar. 27, 2006)
  • Mind you, I’ve got no love loss for Phoenix. (Arizona Daily Star, UA Fans Sports Blog, May 17, 2006)

The idiom “no love lost,” i.e., ‘no love that is lost,’ is reinterpreted as “no love loss,” i.e., ‘no loss of love.’ Since lost and loss are closely related, this eggcorn is rather subtle — so subtle that it has even worked its way into newspaper headlines (Edinburgh News, USA Today).

The reinterpretation may help to clarify the idiom, since “(there is) no love lost” has never been particularly transparent. As the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms explains, the expression actually had two contrary senses through the 18th century: implying either extreme affection or extreme dislike. The latter sense eventually won out.

In the Eggcorn Forum Sphinxie notes the reverse substitution from loss to lost, as in “I am sorry for your lost” (appearing frequently in online memorials and guest books).

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2006/05/18 |

Sanskrit » sandscript

Classification: English – final d/t-deletion

Spotted in the wild:

  • adam and eve were not the original two in creation. lilith was edited out of the bible, but she is in the old sandscript documents antd the old jewish religion. you can probably find it in google somewhere. (Comparative Religion forum, Feb 21, 2005)
  • Yama is the sandscript term encompassing concepts of social restraint such as non-violence, non-stealing, truthfulness, non-attachment and moderation. Niyama, also a sandscript term, refers to internal restraints including contentment, purity, self-study, discipline and surrender. (The Yoga Loft)
  • One question - does anyone here have the ability to write sandscript, arabic, or something along those lines….? (WipeOut Forum, March 31, 2004)

On May 15, 2005, Christophe B. enquired via e-mail:

> Are you interested only in written or also spoken eggcorns?
> I am very intrigued by some wods I hear spoken by people who are intelligent but who clearly do not read, so that they use words from a average- to advanced vocabulary in a way that reflects having only heard them… an example of this is one I often hear: “Sandscript” (for Sanskrit). […]

Well, first of all thanks for the excellent eggcorn _Sanskrit»sandscript_. The examples show that it does indeed exist in written form as well, with the variants _sand script_ and _sandscrit_.

Second, Christophe’s question is an interesting one. To me, a reshaping of any aspect of a word or idiom (spelling, pronunciation, …) that is clearly linked to a new way to make sense of the original material, is much more eggcornish than a random misspelling that just happens to coincide with a pre-existing term. This would be true even in cases where the spelling _doesn’t_ change (where homographs, like _tear_/_tear_ etc., are involved): these would then have to be classified as “hidden eggcorns”.

| 1 comment | link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2006/05/16 |