fetal » feeble
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.