amused » bemused

Classification: English – hidden

Spotted in the wild:

  • I went into a small grocery store one day looking for a roll of aluminum foil. I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere so I asked the clerk at the checkout counter who listened intently to my request and then said, with a sudden, bemused smile on her face, “Oh, you must be looking for ALUMINIUM foil!” I guessed that I was, yes, I said, with a bemused smile of my own. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Bill Walsh at Blogslot (link)

The [American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition](…) has the following entry for _bemuse_:

> TRANSITIVE VERB: Inflected forms: be·mused, be·mus·ing, be·mus·es
1. To cause to be bewildered; confuse. See synonyms at daze.
2. To cause to be engrossed in thought.

This is a hidden eggcorn, which means that there is no way to determine with total certainty whether a writer meant _dazed_, _bewildered_, _thoughtful_, or _slightly and quietly amused_. In many cases, however, the context provides some evidence that amusement is a more salient quality of the situation described than thoughtful confusion.

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2004/12/08 |

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