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#1 2006-11-06 10:52:47

Robert Stern
Member
Registered: 2006-11-06
Posts: 1

Baton Down The Hatches

I saw this phrase today in today’s Nov 6 posting of the popular, entertaining and excellent blog on Arsenal Football Club, www.arseblog.com. It appeared in the following paragraph:

‘’We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we’ve only lost as many games as Chelsea have this season. I have a feeling that what we’ve been lacking somewhat is a bit of a siege mentality. It was prevalent when we used to get red cards all the time. It was baton down the hatches stuff, everyone out there hates us but we don’t care. For me we’ve probably been too nice. Everyone loves the football we play when we get it right and that’s great but we’ve been missing something.’’

An internet search reveals many other apparently authentic (ab)usages, and I was surprised to find it has not yet been submitted to the database.

Does this qualify as a genuine eggcorn? I find the imagery of batons going down hatches funny, but the intended meaning obscure. Batons are usually passed – does throwing one down the hatch suggest an impending storm so severe that one stores it rather than carry it? Why would a sense of foreboding induce a conductor to swallow the tool of his trade? Is it simply a mispelling of ‘batten’, and therefore not a genuine eggcorn, or is the meaning of ‘baton’ much better-known than that of ‘batten’. Any suggestions?

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#2 2006-11-06 16:52:52

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

Robert, I suspect this one may already be in the database or have been posted in the forum – googling ”’baton down the hatches’ + eggcorn” gave me…

The Eggcorn Database » Contribute!“Baton down the hatches” – in the London UK Guardian’s Saturday Travel … There are a lot of occurences of the putative eggcorn, but all the ones I …
eggcorns.lascribe.net/contribute/all-comments/ – 854k

...which can’t be your post since you cite a different source. There are parts of this site, the earlier eggcorns for example, which for some reason we are unable to access. Pat or jorkel can probably cast more light on this…

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#3 2006-11-06 17:23:41

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

Robert Stern’s final paragraph gets right to the core issue…

Does this qualify as a genuine eggcorn? I find the imagery of batons going down hatches funny, but the intended meaning obscure. Batons are usually passed – does throwing one down the hatch suggest an impending storm so severe that one stores it rather than carry it? Why would a sense of foreboding induce a conductor to swallow the tool of his trade? Is it simply a mispelling of ‘batten’, and therefore not a genuine eggcorn, or is the meaning of ‘baton’ much better-known than that of ‘batten’. Any suggestions?

My sense is this:
baton down the hatches” doesn’t create a new imagery that the utterer would truly believe—and this fact dooms it as an eggcorn. Robert is probably correct in calling it a misspelling.

We might contrast this with the other entry on this topic…

“button down the hatches” for “batten down the hatches” by TimLeonard Contribute! 0 2005-11-15 16:17:53 by TimLeonard

In this instance, the notion “button down” is well understood and apt as a replacement for the less widely known “batten down.”

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#4 2006-11-06 20:49:48

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

I must be a little contrary and suggest this is an eggcorn; there is a sense of urgency and beating into submission a recalcitrant ally with a wooden stick for the common good…

baton
1548, “a staff used as a weapon,” from Fr. batôn, from O.Fr. baston, from L.L. bastum “stout staff,” prob. of Gaulish origin. Meaning “staff carried as a symbol of office” is from 1590; musical sense of “conductor’s wand” is from 1867.
batten (n.)
“strip of wood (especially used to fasten canvas over ships’ hatches),” 1658, Anglicized version of baton “a stick, a staff” (q.v.).

from Online Etymology Dictionary

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#5 2006-11-06 21:36:15

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

Sorry I overlooked that possibility Peter. I haven’t heard “baton” used —in the United States—in the sense that you suggest. But since the original poster points out a British sports website, I’d have to defer to you as our resident expert on word usage in the UK.

My one last eggcorn test is whether “batten” has a different etymology from “baton.” Peter’s last post suggests that “batten” is an Anglicized version of “baton”—so we seem to be quibbling over two words having the same origin. I don’t know whether the eggcorn experts have reached a concensus about the need to have a distinct etymology for the eggcorn word, but I suspect it’s heading in that direction.

I’m back in the camp of “not an eggcorn.”

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#6 2006-11-07 04:23:01

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

“Button down the hatches” has been contributed a number of times, but it just occurred to me to wonder whether “batter down the hatches” has ever made it onto the forum. Hard to believe that Ken Lakritz would have missed that one, but I can’t find it.

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#7 2006-11-07 04:28:01

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

Here’s that earlier “baton” post Peter mentioned:

#35 Commentary by Katy Jennison , 2005/02/19 at 10:38 pm
“Baton down the hatches” – in the London UK Guardian’s Saturday Travel supplement, 19 February 2005, in an article by Joanna Moorhead. “Everyone knows kids make the worst neighbours on a long (or even a short) distance flight. What most passengers do is probably what you’re about to do right now – baton down the hatches, ram on the headphones and avert your eyes…”

Peter—the way I found this was by doing what you suggested on Google. And once I got to the Google hit you found, I clicked on the portion of the hit labeled “Cached.” And then I just followed the colorcoding to get to the original post.

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#8 2006-11-08 19:28:31

MartyArtie
Member
From: Teddington, Middlesex
Registered: 2006-11-03
Posts: 23

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

I’d vote for this as an eggcorn, since I suspect the image the misusers have in their minds is of a relay runner’s baton (which is of circular cross-section) being passed through rings on the hatches to hold them closed, like a door bolt, whereas to batten down the hatches is to fasten down canvas over doorways and hatches with battens, or strips of wood, which have a rectangular cross-section – and since I strongly suspect more people have heard of batons (from watching relay races at televised athletics events) than battens, hence the error found in eggcorns of submitting a familiar word for an unfamiliar one ...

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#9 2006-11-09 15:09:56

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

Ok, I’m open to the possibility that the hardware (bolts) used to batten down the hatches might look like little batons, but it’s still a bit of a stretch without a concrete example or an eye witness account. (Kudos to all of us who have an active imagination, for if we were the utterers rather than the hunters there would be more eggcorns to find!) I guess I’d call “baton down the hatches” an eggcorn when I see the example with enough context clues to support it.

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#10 2011-05-30 00:42:01

Eoin
Member
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 11

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

I heard this on PBS’s nature: ”....battling down the hatches…”, so I had to look it up. Sure enough there are 2,450 hits on Google for “battle down the hatches”. Makes sense, if you’re preparing for an onslaught you’d “battle”, right?

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#11 2011-05-30 04:45:56

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2149

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

Makes good sense. I like this one.

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#12 2011-05-30 19:22:04

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1777
Website

Re: Baton Down The Hatches

I too doubt somewhat the eggcornishness of “baton down the hatches” (and like “battle down the hatches” a lot). It does seem likely to be a pronunciation-spelling sort of error: the meaningless “batten” is spelled “baton” (equally meaninglessly), which may be facilitated by the common pronunciation of Baton Rouge as [‘βæʔn’ruʒ] (i.e. like “batten” instead of like “baton” with the accent on the second syllable).


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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