bow » bough

Chiefly in:   a shot over the bough

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “This is, basically, a shot over the bough,” the agent said, “which clearly indicates that the Players Association is onto MLB’s game.” (Jayson Stark's column on
  • “Warning: I’m firing the first shot over the bough. On behalf of my clients, we’re going to vigorously defend the continuation and preservation of the very …” (link)
  • “Let this be a shot over the bough of all bicyclists. We’re watching you and we have cell phones. I’ll go as far as to warn you.” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Robert Coren (Newsgroup soc.motss posting of 20 November 2004)
  • Arnold Zwicky (The Fall Eggcorn Crop, on Language Log)

The first cite was supplied by Coren in his soc.motss posting.

Nautical expressions, like “(fire) a shot over the bow”, tend to be reshaped by the non-nautical, who will replace a mystifying specifically nautical term by a more familiar homophone, “bough” in this case.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/08/19 |

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.