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#1 2008-07-12 20:58:26

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2740

penny drop << pin drop

Perhaps there is something eggcornish in the idiom blend “you could hear a penny drop.” There are a few dozen examples on the web of this phrase used in contexts that would require “you could hear a pin drop.” Three of them are cited below.

“You could hear a pin drop” as an expression of great silence seems to have entered English in the Enlightenment. In the mid-twentieth century, when cheap vending machines began to appear, people began to talk about a sudden realization as the “penny dropping.” My guess is that for some people the two dropping objects have become confused. The substitution is not all that bad-while the ring of a falling penny is not so soundless as the tiny tap of a pin, it could still pass as a standard of soft sound.

Comment on a frosh English blog: “You could hear a penny drop in the halls of the DMACC Campus while class is in session.” (http://dmaccenglish105.blogspot.com/200 … stion.html)

A fiction blog entry: “She paused – so silent one could hear a penny drop” (http://nocturne.noctalis.com/codex.cgi?Annabel_Lee)

Sport reporting site: “For such a grand stadium that only hosted a Grand Slam party seven days ago, you could almost hear a penny drop for the atmosphere was about as exhilarating as watching Lenny Henry re-runs with a migrane.” (http://www.scrumoftheearth.com/rugby_ne … Cup,2.aspx)

There are, in addition, about a hundred unique examples of “you could hear a pen drop.” This, I assume, is just mishearing of “pin,” though in a few AmEng dialects-mine, alas, is one of them-the sounds of the words “pen” and “pin” are not distinguished.

Last edited by kem (2008-07-13 01:29:43)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#2 2008-07-12 21:19:47

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2398
Website

Re: penny drop << pin drop

Fun! But more clearly an idiom blend than an eggcorn (not that the categories are distinct, by any means!)

Sort of similar ones:

“You could hear a light bulb go off in his head.”
“I cry at the drop of a bucket”
cry “at the drop of a dime”


*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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#3 2008-07-13 01:49:23

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2740

Re: penny drop << pin drop

In most idiom blends there is little effort to replicate sounds in the substituted words, is there? “Barking up the wrong alley,” for example, replaces “tree” with “alley” (or “going” with “barking,” depending on which way you think the blend happens). When the idioms that are blended substitute sound-similar words, though, they can come perilously close to being eggcorns. “The book is a page burner” for “the book is a page turner” could arguably be an eggcorn. The pin/penny substitution in “you could hear a penny drop” also replaces a word with another that has a similar sound.

Perhaps we should call these “scambled eggcorns.”


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#4 2008-07-13 09:46:28

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2398
Website

Re: penny drop << pin drop

“Scrambled eggcorns” — I like it!

Yes, idiom blends where there isn’t much of a similarity of sound in the substituted part are not eggcorns. But of course where there is a similarity of sound, that increases the chances that people will scramble the idioms.


*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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#5 2008-07-13 15:46:56

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

Re: penny drop << pin drop

Somewhere between “pin” and “penny” lies “pen.” Over 100 sightings…

John Doan – Harp Guitar – PHOTOS
You could hear a pen drop as the audience went with me on a musical journey! While on stage my image was also projected bigger than life on a screen behind …
www.johndoan.com/photos-group-45.html – 15k – Similar pages
http://www.johndoan.com/photos-group-45.html

Playing consequences in the sitting room | eG weekly …
May 6, 2008 … You could almost hear a pen drop on the thick, fitted carpet. The walls, furnishings and pictures, like the carpet, are tastefully neutral. ...
education.guardian.co.uk/egweekly/story/0,,22779… – 56k – Similar pages
http://education.guardian.co.uk/egweekl … 17,00.html

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#6 2008-07-13 16:20:41

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

Re: penny drop << pin drop

This thread gets me very philosophical about how eggcorns are generated. Rather than bury those ideas in the current thread, I started a new one “How and when are eggcorns formed?”

Last edited by jorkel (2008-07-13 16:30:19)

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