Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I never hear either “tousled” or “tossled” in terms of anything but hair. “Tousle” is a generally unfamiliar word, but not so “toss.” In particular, people can toss their hair about, and this can be a very attractive activity when done by pretty people with pretty hair. The result of a lot of hair-tossing is tousled hair, so I suspect that people who say “tossled” are thinking of well-tossed hair.
As for Google hits, I get 372,000 for tousled vs. 1,000 for tossled, but 62,100 for the exact phrase “tousled hair” and 2,580 for “tossled hair.” I clearly have something to learn about Google searches.
I see that there’s an entry for “tussled” instead of “tousled” on Paul Brians’ “Common Errors in English” web site (http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/index.html), although I’ve never heard that variant.