Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
What about Miss Malaprop in THE RIVALS? My favorite:
In Algiers they spend most of the time at the cash bar.
What’s the difference between a malapropism and an eggcorn?
The title of the song “Rock the Casbah” by the Clash is sometimes misheard as “Rock the cash bar.” The two main websites that collect “mondegreens” (i.e., misheard lyrics—like Dylan’s “The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind” or The Rolling Stones’ “I see a Renoir and I want to paint it black”) both list it:
As for the distinction between an eggcorn and a malapropism, eggcorns make some kind of sense of an obscure or opaque phrase, but malapropisms don’t. For instance, the phrase “star-craving mad” (instead of “stark-raving mad”) seems like an excellent eggcorn to me: it expresses a kind of hopeless, obsessive longing for the unattainable that we sometimes associate with mental instability. The reinterpreted phrase has a meaning that’s ultimately similar to that of the original, but it’s arguably a bit more transparent than the standard phrase. And the fact that it’s charmingly poetic is a bonus. By contrast, “the entomology of the word” (for “the etymology of the word”) is clearly a malapropism because it’s simply nonsense—it’s hard to imagine that anyone who knew what the word “entomology” really meant could write that.
Of course, these two examples make the distinction seem more clear-cut than it often is; if you go look at the comments for individual entries in the Eggcorns Database proper, you’ll see many instances where people dispute the eggcornicity of a given phrase listed in the Database.