uncharted » unchartered

Variant(s):  well-chartered

Classification: English – /r/-dropping

Spotted in the wild:

Analyzed or reported by:

wolfangel writes:

Unchartered waters, appearing 6590 times in Google (note that some of these are articles about charter schools, so this may also be a pun or a typo), to uncharted waters appearing 65,000 times. (The ratio is about the same if you put them in quotes.)

I can’t think of a good explanation for this one. Like a chartered flight? Waters you go through by accident? Uncharted seems so sensible that I don’t get the other. But it’s not much less sensible than wedding vowels, I guess.

The L.A. glam-rock band Dogs D’Amour released an album in 1993 called More Unchartered Heights of Disgrace.

_Edited on 4-Mar-05 to add:_ In the comments section, Dan wonders if this is not just a “straight-up malapropism.” In other contributions to the database (antidotal evidence, conjunctive heart failure), I’ve noted cases that seem like malapropisms to me and have marked them “questionable.” I’d say that this one is eggcornish enough because a) _uncharted_ and _unchartered_ are nearly homophonous (or entirely so for non-rhotic speakers), and b) it’s possible to make a semantic rationalization for _unchartered_, despite wolfangel’s skepticism. _Unchartered_ is variously defined as ‘without regulation; lawless’ or ‘not officially authorized or permitted.’ Surely it’s not a great leap to think of perilous new waters/heights/frontiers/territories as lacking regulation or official authorization.

_Edited on 30-Jun-05 to add:_ Commenter rosanne notes a similar form, _well-chartered waters_.

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/03/01 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Dan , 2005/03/03 at 11:24 pm

    This post is a great example of a bad trend I’ve noticed in the eggcorn database: blurring of the definition of eggcorn. If there’s no evidence of an eggcorn-style reinterpretation, and especially if you can’t figure out a reason why anyone would use the wrong word independent of such evidence, then isn’t it just a straight-up malapropism?

  2. 2

    Commentary by Peter , 2006/04/27 at 2:29 pm

    Unchartered Waters is a largely popular game published by Koei of Japan. The first two iterations of the game were released in the US, while the last two version we only released in Asia. Since there is a loyal following of english speaking fans, many people scour the web for any traces of translation packs for the UW3 and UW4. Unchartered Waters, the video game series is no doubt partially responsible for the heafty appearance of the word combination.

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