cacophony » cacoughany

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • I tell her what I’m looking for as we enter the room, whereupon all hell breaks loose. Everything from three massive macaws down to dozens of teeny finches make an unbelievable cacoughany. I wince, barely managing to not cover my ears. (LiveJournal post, Jul 9, 2007)
  • The sound of frustrated youth crashed unto the floor. Him standing ready, like ready to axe through the biggest oak tree. The speakers sound in cacoughany… (myspace blog post, Feb 27, 2005)
  • Unfortunately I as coming home one night after a movie when the manifold finally gave way under their evil yet devastating efforts and my car roared into a cacoughany of puffing, snapping, screeching, and overall noise not too far from what you would expect from someone chain sawing a herd of donkeys. (myspace blog post, Sep 26, 2007)
  • “That kids crazy mother beat me up with a broom!” The redneck said pointing my way and you could’ve heard a pin drop in the three full seconds of silence that followed before Tom Reynolds exploded with a cacoughany of laughter and saliva all over the rednecks’ swollen face. (personal page, retrieved Aug 22, 2009 Nov 11, 2006)
  • As the song reaches it’s height with a total cacoughany of sounds. I see the horrific sight of Hincapie peddling, arms flailing, out of control with a broken steerer tube, inevitably crashing hard and ending his race. (blog post, Nov 11, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

_Cacophony_, from Greek κακός (kakos, “bad”) + φωνή (phonē, “voice”), has been around in English since the mid-1600s at least, according to Merriam-Webster. Analogous words with close to the same sense exist in French (cacophonie), Spanish (cacofonía), German (Kakofonie), Norwegian (kakofoni) and many other languages.

Coughing, as Peter Forster notes in his Eggcorn forum post, “makes a harsh and discordant noise, and it seems reasonable to suppose that those using a ‘cacoughany’ spelling may have made some association between the two and have entered, therefore, eggcorn territory.” When _cacoughany_ refers to a specific sound the word can be understood as describing it as as harsh and unpleasant as coughing.

There are quite a few other spelling variants, such as _cacoughony_ (which looks eggcornish) or _cacoffini_ (which looks more like spelling-by-ear, without any plausible link to _coffin_).

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2009/08/23 |

fetal » feeble

Chiefly in:   (curled up) in the feeble position

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Donnie was in the feeble position on the floor rocking back and forth. (blog fiction by Robert Kingett, July 20, 2009)
  • I was impressed. He was looking quite happy for someone who spent the last night sleeping in the feeble position. (fanfiction.net, July 26, 2009)
  • Dwayne kept on punching and kicking Damian until one of Damien’s crew members came back with the gym teacher Mr. Croix who broke up the fight only to see that Damian was in the feeble position crying and bleeding on the floor. (blog entry, April 5, 2009)

Michael Covarrubias noted this eggcorn in his August 2, 2009 posting on the American Dialect Society’s listserv, overhearing ep. 2 of season 1 of the show _Coach_ (_I dropped on my knees, curled up in the feeble position, closed my eyes and screamed my head off_). He also noted that googling “the feeble position” returns a number of hits from skateboarding sites and discussion, where the phrase seems to refer to a position of the board perched on the edge of a ramp.

If a person is said to be placed (often: “curled up”) in the fetal position, this generally carries a sense beyond the mere positioning of the rump and limbs, but also signifies a state of extreme weakness and vulnerability. _Feeble_ is an adjective close to this sense. The substitution of [b] for the flapped t in _fetal_ — its usual realization in American English — is an easy change to make.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2009/08/16 |

eavesdrop » eardrop

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Some of the terms that are closely inspected in this chapter include attacks on integrity and confidentiality, wardriving, LAN jacking, wireless eardropping, WEP cracking and usage of rougue adapters. (net-security.org book review, June 4, 2003)
  • I mean just eardropping this morning I heard a lot. (Australian Government welcome address transcript, (1994))
  • Yes privacy and civil rights are important, but do you really think the government was more interested about eardropping on your silly conversations than about trying to prevent another attack? (SatelliteGuys.us forum, August 28, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

On the original verb _eavesdrop_, see _eavesdrop_ » _ease drop_. _Eardrop_ makes immediate sense.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2009/05/18 |

eavesdrop » ease drop

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Not too long ago, however, I ease dropped on a conversation at a local restaurant, that although was probably not the right thing to do, as far as good manners are concerned, proved to be quite entertaining. (The Caledonia Argus, Oct 23, 2007)
  • I just lovelovelove all that kitschy stuff that you find in touristy places, and you can get some fabulous easedropping done, too. (Salon.com comment, Jul 23, 1997)
  • I have a problem. I like to ease drop. I am horrible at doing this. I ease drop and love to people watch. (blog post, July 12, 2006)
  • But how do you prove someone is ease dropping? (mailing list post, Sep 28, 1996)

Analyzed or reported by:

_Eavesdrop_ is a denominal verb formed from the same pattern as for example _shop_ or _lobby_. The underlying noun _eavesdrop_, expanded in the OED as “the space of ground which is liable to receive the rain-water thrown off by the eaves of a building”, has fallen out of general use, and with it the image behind the verb, of standing close to the outside wall of a house, under the overhanging roof, and listening in to what is spoken inside.

The eggcorn _easedrop_ or _ease drop_ might be stressing the aspect of casualness when overhearing other people’s conversations.

The reshaping _eavesdrop_ » _ease drop_ has been suggested multiple times on this site and in other venues, first by Chris Russell (investigated by Pat Schwieterman).

See also _eavesdrop_ » _eardrop_.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2009/05/18 |

lengths » links

Chiefly in:   car links

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “I like to have about 10-15 car links between us and the cars in front of us…” (link)
  • “If they can’t see your license plate from 3 and 1/2 car links behind, they should get glasses.” (link)
  • “At 160 i was about 1 1/2 car links ahead of the Supra.” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Doug Harris (ADS-L posting of 7 April 2009)

The raising of [Ɛ] before nasals probably plays a role in this one.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2009/04/07 |