Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I have heard a number of discussions about the meaning of “on the up and up.” As an idiom, this expression means “honest, above board.” Many use the expression to mean “on the increase.” So, when someone says that his business is on the up and up, one has to wonder whether he means that he is running the business honestly or whether he means it is generating a lot of profits.
Lately I’ve been discussing the potential for phrases like these to become eggcorns. I’ve referred to these as “stealth eggcorns” because the context has changed—and maybe even the usage of certain words has changed—but there is no alteration in the sound of the words. And in the current example, I doubt there is even the possibility for the latter.
This contrasts with the situation where “fast and loose” took on a new meaning, and it would really only gain eggcorn status when someone uttered “faster and looser.” (Who knows, maybe that’s not really an eggcorn either, as I’ve assumed all along).
In general, there must be dozens of idiomatic expressions that are not used in their original (or proper) context. I hate to keep referring to these as stealth eggcorns because, again, they may never acquire sound alterations. Really, all we seem to have here are misused idioms. I thought I was going to draw a conclusion from all of this, but now all I have to say is this: What an annoying gray area!
Other thoughts and viewpoints are welcome.
Last edited by jorkel (2007-04-18 16:25:41)