pike » pipe
Spotted in the wild:
- Unless the FCC gets smarter about the technologies coming down the pipe, they’re creating perfect conditions for a real mess down the line. (The Coming (Cognitive) Radio Revolution... AKA The FCC as Regulatory Ostrich)
- And with all that new hardware coming down the pipe and the potential for lots of new Metroid, this year should be a barnburner! (The Metroid Database)
Analyzed or reported by:
- Paul Brians (Common Errors in English)
To “come down the pike” is an idiomatic slang expression where “pike” is an abbreviation of “turnpike.” (See definition below) It is extremely common, however, for people to say “come down the pipe” instead, which is clearly a reshaping based on a phonetic error combined with a semantic reinterpretation. Both are metaphors.
An interesting possible semantic difference: while a turnpike has barriers which must be overcome (as toll gates), a pipe generally does not. The original phrase using “pike” may have been meant to signify a “coming into prominence” that will occur once obstacles are overcome, while the eggcorn using “pipe” may emphasize that the “coming into prominence” is inevitable and only a matter of time.
pike³ (pīk) n.
- A turnpike.
a. A tollgate on a turnpike.
b. A toll paid.
intr.v. piked, pik·ing, pikes
To move quickly.
come down the pike Slang
To come into prominence: “a policy… allowing for little flexibility if an important new singer comes down the pike” (Christian Science Monitor).