once in a while » once and a while
Spotted in the wild:
- My computer starts up only once and a while (Tech Support Forum)
- “You have a warped mind. Read a book once and a while that doesn’t have a picture of Jesus on it.” (Posting by email@example.com to five Usenet newsgroups, including soc.motss, on 9 September 2005)
- “And yes, every once and awhile, we want to see movies based on beloved religious literature or themes …” ("Missing the big picture", USA Today, 6 February 2006)
Analyzed or reported by:
- Paul Brians (Common Errors in English)
- Ron Butters (ADS-L posting, 15 February 2006)
I am inclined to this one myself — edited it out of a Language Log posting only yesterday (28 March 2005).
One of a large number of reanalyses that turn on the interpretation of an unstressed syllabic n, which could be “and”, “in”, “-en”, “-in’”, etc.
[Added 9 September 2005: This version of the expression might also be influenced by the idiom “once and for all”, though the two idioms are not particularly close semantically.]
[Added 15 February 2006: the alternative spelling “awhile”, in the USA Today article quoted by Ron Butters on ADS-L.]