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#1 2007-07-05 12:19:34

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1456

Blind Man's BLUFF (buff)

Google counts on July 5, 2007:
52,300 “blind man’s buff”—original usage
112,000 “blind man’s bluff”—eggcorn-turned-mainstream usage
Analysis by Joe Krozel

Klakritz mentioned the buff/bluff mixup in a recent post, but the meaning of “buff” in that post is different. I came upon the current eggcorn accidentally when looking up a different word in the dictionary and stumbling upon “blind man’s buff”—much to my surprise.

Wikipedia has an entry on this subject, and their critical assessment is this:

The game is known as blind man’s buff in the UK and Ireland, buff meaning a small push. It is likely that the American name is a corruption, someone mishearing or reading buff as bluff or thinking it a mistake.

There is no mention that the “bluff” variant might have originated strictly as an eggcorn.

The Wikipedia article describes the game as such:

Blind man’s bluff or Blind man’s buff1 is a children’s game played in a spacious enclosed area, such as a large room, in which one player, designated as It, is either blindfolded or closes his or her eyes. The It player gropes around blindly and attempts to touch the other players without being able to see them, while the other players scatter and try to avoid and hide from the It player, sometimes teasing him/her to make him/her change direction. The game is a variant of tag.

If one thinks about the way in which a blindfolded person might “tag” other players who are teasingly darting in and out of reach, the ideal technique might be a bluff: the blindfolded person “bluffs” that he is heading off in one direction and suddenly swings around to tag a player in a different direction. Whence the eggcorn.

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#2 2007-07-05 12:24:05

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1456

Re: Blind Man's BLUFF (buff)

It has suddenly occurred to me that this might be a case of folk etymology whereby an intentional name adjustment was made. I don’t really know for sure.

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