butt » but

Chiefly in:   but(-)kicking , kick but , but naked

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • If I pay a but kicking price tag for a computer, I expect a but kicking performance from it. (mac-forums.com, July 23, 2004)
  • Starring Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds, and a but-kicking, gun-toting KRIS PISSED-OFFERSON! (link)
  • And yes, I had a kick-but chemistry set in third grade and a thriving business in middle/high school making stink bombs, smoke bombs, and pyrotechnics. (link)
  • As far as players go, iPod kicks but, and the people have decided they want the best. (macdailynews.com, comment, Feb 28, 2005)
  • I like the kind of girl that is but naked and has her legs spread (newgrounds.com, Dec 12, 2004)
  • She was but naked on top of me with me still inside her and no cover at all!!! (link)

Marked “questionable” because potentially the product of a simple typo (typing one “t” instead of two). On the other hand, _kick but_ and its variants is apparently not uncommon.

Note that _butt naked_ itself counts as a (”nearly mainstream”) eggcorn. See also _nip in the butt_.

| 3 comments | link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/09/11 |

gamut » gamete

Chiefly in:   run the gamete

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • “The fight scenes run the gamete from spectacular to utterly ridiculous, but for the most part they are exciting and decidedly old school …” (link)
  • “His work has run the gamete from co-anchoring a daily special on the Plunderdome trial to covering the Little League World Series.” (link)
  • “… just for the ladies. Activities run the gamete, including shotgunning, flyfishing, rock climbing and much more.” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Michael Siemon (E-mail of 9 September 2005)

Siemon came across “Seeing my face run the gamete from shock to anger…” in soft-core porn of a pretentiously “literary” variety, then Googled and came across a surprisingly large corpus. A web search on 10 September 2005 pulled up ca. 227 pages for “run”, 323 for “runs”, 57 for “running”, and 82 for “ran”. With as yet no access to people who use the spelling GAMETE, I’ve marked this one as questionable: how do people pronounce GAMETE in this context, and do they think there’s some connection to reproductive cells?

In non-technical English, the word “gamut” is pretty much restricted to this one idiom, and most people don’t know about its etymological connection to musical scales, so it’s open to reshaping. In any case, the spelling GAMUT, with its single M and with U representing schwa, is odd, so you’d expect spelling errors, and in fact misspellings of “gamut” are fairly frequent. Here are some Google web figures for “run the ___” (as of 10 September 2005):

Vowel U preserved:

gamut (correct spelling) over a million
gammut 682
gamutt 22
gamute 27
gammute 0

Vowel E:

gamet 3,100
gammet 1,740
gamett 1
gamete 227 (as above)
gammete 0

Vowel I:

gamit 783
gammit 1,090
gamitt 0
gamite 0
gammite 0

Vowel O:

gamot 860
gammot 677
gamott 1
gamote 0
gammote 0

Vowel A:

gamat 63
gammat 70
gamatt 0
gamate 2
gammate 9

There are two clear tendencies in the misspellings: to double the M; and to use the vowel E preferentially, I or O less preferentially, A or U least preferentially. The moderately frequent misspelling GAMETE doesn’t double the M but does use the vowel E. However, it also has a final E, which is otherwise a rare feature of the misspellings; note that GAMMETE gets no hits. I suggest that these facts indicate that writers recognize that GAMETE is the spelling for a word of English — the other misspellings are not standard spellings of English words — which is then available (despite its own oddities of spelling) for the idiom “run the ___” ‘cover a complete range or extent’.

Which is only to argue that GAMETE can be expected as an occasional misspelling of “gamut”. It doesn’t attain eggcorn status unless we can show that there are some speakers who think that the word “gamete” is somehow involved in the idiom.

See also run the gambit.

| 1 comment | link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/09/10 |

Cadillac » Catillac

Classification: English – questionable – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • “:rolleyes: now, WHO drives a catillac out of gas on a side road?? :rolleyes: anyhoo ~ i believe they were casing our house. from the road, you couldnt tell …” (link)
  • “Cadillac ‘Pink’ One of the most escentric and outrageous cars within our entire fleet, the famous 1959 Pink Catillac.” (link)
  • “Vincent then heads to boost a Catillac, but unbeknownst to him, … Vincent, speechless, jumps in the Catillac but is immediately stopped by Julius, …” (link)
  • “CUT TO Lowell speeding up and down the street of a gated off community in his pink Catillac, narrowly missing a few kids that are busy playing hop-scotch. …” (link)

A Google web search on “Catillac” yields thousands of examples, most of them irrelevant: Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats (television show of the 80s), other bits of cat-related word play, the Catillac variety of pear, horses named Catillac, people who’ve chosen “catillac” as their username, and so on. Of the remaining examples, some are probably just misspellings, as in the case of the writer (above) who produces both “Cadillac” and “Catillac” in a short description, and also spells “eccentric” as “escentric” (which probably reflects an actual pronunciation). But I suspect that some of the examples arise from an association between Cadillac cars and men who might be referred to either as “cool cats” or as “fat cats”. The t/d confusion stems, of course, from intervocalic flapping in some English dialects.

See also Cadillac converter.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/09/03 |

ratify » radify

Classification: English – questionable – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • “I think it’s due to the new constitution radification that is about to happen.” (e-mail from a soldier correspondent in Iraq, reported by Rudolph)
  • “The Finance Committee would request that the board radify their action. … Ben Click moved and Ray Hanna seconded the motion to radify the action of the …” (link)
  • “Then and only then will the membership VOTE to radify or not radify the TENTATIVE AGEEMENT.” (link)
  • “… and works to ascertain God’s leading as to whom should fill certain positions within our congregation, the full congregation radifies these appointments in …” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Ken Rudolph (Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, 27 August 2005)

Not a rare spelling for “ratify”: raw Google web hits on 29 August 2005:

radification: 1,070
radified: 13,400 (most related to “rad” rather than “ratify”)
radify: 649
radifies: 89
radifying: 82

Most of these are probably simple misspellings, but “rad(ical)” might have contributed to some of them, which would bring them into eggcorn territory.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/08/30 |

sealed » steeled

Chiefly in:   s.o.'s lips are steeled

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • “My lips are steeled.” (Degrassi television show, seen 27 August 2005)
  • ” Word on the street is a friend of mine went drinking with this chap. I must know more, but everyone’s lips are steeled. Ahahahahahah. Damn them!” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Ken Rudolph (Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, 27 August 2005)

The formula “X’s lips are sealed”, used to convey ‘X will not divulge anything’, isn’t hard to work out, but it seems that at least a few people (so far I have only the two cites above) find it opaque and have improved it via the intrusion of the verb “steel” ‘make hard, obdurate’ (or perhaps the noun “steel”, evoking the image of sealing one’s lips with a steel zipper). An intermediate step might be provided by occurrences of the verb “steel” with “lips” as its object, as in these two examples supplied by Chris Waigl:

Naked at Mulder’s feet again. I could really, really get used to this.
But not tonight, dammit. I steeled my lips in a hard line and stood up,
making a Herculean effort not to look at the beautiful, hard, straining
cock right in front of me. (link)

Steeling his lips in a grimace of grim determination, Michael made his
way stoically towards the one place that Nikita could be. (link)

| 1 comment | link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/08/29 |