champ at the bit » chomp at the bit

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • Electronics makers chomping at the bit. (Taipei Times, Mar 16, 2004)
  • Well, regarding one congregation in the previously referenced sextet, the previously referenced Grace Church in Orange Park, a casual visitor sitting in on a parish meeting would get the impression they are chomping at the bit to leave the Episcopal Church USA. (soc.motss, Aug 20, 2005)
  • “But I wouldn’t say [they’re frustrated], I think our players are just chomping at the bit to go.” ( Sport, August 19, 2005)
  • “I personally have never had the chance to see Fallen Angels on anything larger than a 27-inch television,” Marchetti told The Reeler. “So I’m kind of chomping at the bit for that one.” (The Reeler, NYC, Aug 19, 2005)
  • The Urbana City Council apparently isn’t chomping at the bit to consider a resolution advising the University of Illinois to retire Chief Illiniwek. (The News-Gazette, August 18, 2005)

Treated at some length in my Language Log piece of 28 March 2005, “Chomping at the Font”. The verb “champ” was specialized in the idiom “champ at the bit” ‘be restive’, while “chomp” continued to be used in its munching sense. Then the much more frequent and less specialized “chomp”, which still makes sense in the context, replaced “champ” more and more.

| 4 comments | link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/29 |

rife » ripe

Chiefly in:   ripe with

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Pivotal scenes between Tony Soprano and his lady “shrink” are ripe with moral ambiguities.” (from Fiske, unattributed)
  • Felder: Season ripe with opportunity, peril (, article title, October 10, 2005)
  • The first day of the semester was notably ripe with traffic accidents, as three crashes occurred near Maple and Alumni drives. (The Oracle, October 19, 2005)
  • Makeup this fall season is ripe with sophisticated shades and textures, says Chicago makeup artist Marcus Geeter. (ABC Chicago, October 17, 2005)
  • Granted, the modern world is ripe with digital alternatives for enquiring young minds unimpressed with the sight of Anthony Carluccio stuffing a chop and swilling rosé - but this overbearing triumph of the grill wouldn’t be quite so galling if the programmes that it’s made of weren’t quite so bad. (Michael Holden, The Guardian, Michael Holden's Screen burn July 3, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Robert Hartwell Fiske (The Dictionary of Disagreeable English)
  • commenter "J" (on this site)

The rare and specialized adjective “rife” is here replaced by the much more common “ripe”, which actually makes a lot of sense. Fiske (p. 271) rants: “Infuriatingly, some dictionaries–the worst of them–claim that ripe with also means full of.”

[2005/10/20, CW: some examples added; minor editing.]

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/29 |

hearty » hardy

Chiefly in:   party hardy , hardily

Classification: English – nearly mainstream – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • And apparently this was the case because the Phi Delts had in fact been told to watch themselves because they have a reputation on campus for being a “party-hardy” fraternity. (University of LaVerne Campus Times, Sep. 27, 2002)
  • ‘Hey, is the phrase ‘party hardy,’ h-a-r-d-y, or is it ‘party hearty,’ h-e-a-r-t-y?’ ‘Party hardy,’ Tony answered, after thinking for a moment. ‘Like the Boys.’ ‘Hmmm. I always thought hearty. Like you’re putting your whole heart into the partying.’ Tony nodded, conceding Mikey’s point. (The Morning News, Nov. 7, 2002)
  • The lyrics follow the party-hardy style of The Strokes or other new rock bands, but the music is still rooted in lush musical imagery and a soft-rock piano accompaniment. (Macalester College Mac Weekly, Oct. 22, 2004)
  • I’m ambivalent on that one, as I can see an argument made for seeing it in context, but I hardily dislike the “improved” Google Groups UI for threaded view, which I find much harder to read). (soc.motss, Aug. 22, 2005)

Analyzed or reported by:

Web usage runs about 1.3:1 in favor of party hearty. The hardy variant has been popular at least since the ’70s (see, e.g., the song “Party Hardy” by the funk band Slave released in 1977, the same year that another funk band, L.T.D., released “We Party Hearty”). The variant with hardy is clearly influenced by party hard.

[Added, Aug. 23, 2005:] As for hardily, the example above appeared in a soc.motss discussion about the Eggcorn Database, ironically enough. Google finds this form appearing quite frequently in such collocations as hardily recommend, hardily agree, and laugh hardily.

See also hardy » hearty.

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/02/20 |

sleight » slight

Chiefly in:   slight of hand

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • “I mainly use magic tricks to reduce boredom and to relax students at the beginning of a class,” explained Krevsky, adding that several slight of hand tricks are great examples of medical maladies. (Temple University press release, Jan. 28, 1999)
  • “What I do is not slight-of-hand or magic. It’s math, but with a twist,” explains Lamb, who admits he’s always been something of a card shark. (Texas A&M University press release, Sep. 6, 2000)
  • For the past 18 years, Eric has traveled the States and abroad, charming both large audiences in stage shows and small groups at family parties with his “slight-of-hand” tricks. (OSU Moritz College of Law press release, Apr. 2003)

Analyzed or reported by:

The ratio of “sleight of hand” to “slight of hand” on Google’s Usenet archive is about 2.4:1 (38,500:15,800).

Slight was a common spelling variant of sleight through the 18th century, according to the OED.

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/02/17 |

faze » phase

Chiefly in:   phased, unphased

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • Mr James is unlikely to be phased by the criticisms which will undoubtedly come his way in taking on the much derided dome. (Guardian, September 6, 2000)
  • She was not phased by her opposition. “It was weird I had to keep reminding myself who I was swimming against,” she said. (Daily Telegraph - Sport, 16 February 2005)
  • Kucinich not phased by Gephardt’s early dropout (The Lantern, February 5, 2004)
  • University not phased by allegations against school apparel manufacturer (Daily Illini, March 5, 2004)
  • And yet, through all of this, there stood Onyx. Unscathed, and apparently unphased by the very worst that Fay has had to offer thus far. ( videos, March 5, 2008)

Analyzed or reported by:

Google indicates 50,000 hits on English pages for _fazed by_ versus 26,600 for _phased by_. An original/eggcorn ratio of 1.88 is very high, and indeed the substitution is found frequently in journalistic writing. The Guardian’s _Corrections and clarifications_ columns offer several examples, such as this one, with a hint of exasperation:

> A preview of tonight’s episode of 24 on page 89 of the Guide, states, “She’s the only one not that phased by Jack, Tony and Gael’s secret plot …” The word (once again) should be fazed.

The Language Log post referenced above provides further information, such as Arnold Zwicky’s commentary:

> MWDEU has an entertaining entry on “faze, phase, feaze, feeze”, which notes that “phase” for “faze” is very common and remarks that it “is almost a century old now, and we are not especially hopeful that it will be phased out.” But they do recommend reserving “faze” to mean ‘daunt’. [..]

The American Heritage® Book of English Usage has an entry on it as well.

Edit, 2008-08-26 (CW): Added reference to and cites for “unphased”, which, as rightly pointed out by Ken Lakritz in the Eggcorn forums, were missing from this entry.

| 3 comments | link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/02/16 |