congestive » conjunctive

Chiefly in:   conjunctive heart failure

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • Jacqueline Green has rheumatoid arthritis, conjunctive heart failure, and a nonmalignant brain tumor that causes hypertension. (Canton Repository/Associated Press, Jan. 2, 2002)
  • He had battled diabetes for years and died of conjunctive heart failure in an Arlington, VA hospital while being treated for respiratory problems. (Radio Recall, Feb. 2004)
  • On Oct 22 I received a phone call from the administrator at my mother’s ALF stating she was ill and had conjunctive heart failure. (Newsweek letter to the editor, Jan. 21, 2004)

Analyzed or reported by:

Marked questionable: may be better classified as a non-eggcornic malapropism because there is no apparent semantic justification for the use of _conjunctive_ (though it is perhaps influenced by _conjunctivitis_). Also, the phonological similarity is a bit tenuous (two entirely different phonemes in a stressed syllable).

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/02/19 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Ollie Clark , 2005/10/26 at 3:32 pm

    I’m pretty sure this should be congenital->conjunctive. I’ve heard of congenital heart disease (a defect which has been there since birth) many times but never congestive heart disease (a blocked heart?!?). Possibly this is the first example of an eggcorned eggcorn (congenital -> congestive -> conjunctive).

  2. 2

    Commentary by Ben Zimmer , 2005/10/26 at 4:33 pm

    No, “congestive heart failure” is a widely recognized medical term. See, for instance, here, here, and here.

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