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 |

front and center » front in center

Classification: English – and «» in/en

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Women’s rights in Afghanistan are (finally) front in center in light of the country’s new “rape” law.” (link)
  • “Wise moving to front in center” (link)
  • “Gay marriage front in center before Calif. high court” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Victor Steinbok (e-mail of 6 April 2009)

Another case of exchange between different unaccented nasal syllables.

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

mismatched » mixmatch

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Diana was best known for her very funny laughter and her cute witty bandanas and not to mention her sometimes mixmatch clothing. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Margaret Lee (ADS-L, 10 March 2009)

A cousin to the mixmash eggcorn. Mix ‘n match no doubt contributes to the mix.

Margaret Lee’s original report:

At a recent Phish concert here in Hampton, a Phish fan “Phish head”) (female) was quoted in the local newspaper as saying, “It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one that wears mixmatch clothing and is into other things besides cell phones and bling-bling.” Is this use of “mixmatch” for “mismatch” an eggcorn? I don’t know if this was her pronunciation or the reporter’s spelling of the word.

[Addendum: Ben Zimmer reports a discussion by Nancy Friedman of mixedmaxed as a possible eggcorn for mismatched.]

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2009/03/10 |

chifforobe » Shiffer robe

Classification: English – proper names

Spotted in the wild:

  • Inside the house, the only thing that remains is his mother’s dresser. He secures it to the floor with wrapping cord and leaves a note in each drawer that says, “this shiffer-robe belongs to Hazel Motes. Do not steal it or you will be hunted down and killed.” (link)
  • 1/23/2004 Here’s a panoramic picture of the baby’s room almost finished. I just have to get the door back on the Shiffer Robe. (link)
  • I am getting a dresser and a shiffer robe too and those are $400 each and the crib I like is $300 and it converts. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Arnold Zwicky (link)
  • Arnold Zwicky (link)

The two reports cited above are from the American Dialect Society mailing list. An edited version of the second:

I posted in 2000 about an experience I had when I was still driving back and forth across the country at least once a year, and looked in on antique shops in New Mexico, Arizona, and the California desert. Where objects labeled as S(c)ha(e)f(f)er Robes - there were many variant spellings - were on offer. Eventually, when I came across the variants S(c)hiffer Robe, the penny dropped and I realized that these things were chifforobes (”chifforobe” = “chiffonier” + “wardrobe”, itself an interesting formation).

In any case, since so very many things are named after people or places, this sort of reshaping is to be expected.

(The first occurrence is from a summary of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.)

The OED entry for chifforobe lists the following variant spellings: chiffarobe, chifferobe, chiffing robe, chifforobe, chiffrobe, chifrobe, shifferobe.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2009/02/28 |