Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
The first OED citation for going/being “off one’s rocker,” meaning to go/be crazy, is 1897. Presumably the image behind the expression is that of a person falling off a rocking chair-seniors at the rocking chair stages of their lives are susceptible to various forms of senility. There are, however, other vintage “rockers” that might be the source of the idiom (e.g., rocking horses, rocker arms in dynamos, but not Mick Jagger).
On the web we find several dozen sites where “off one’s rocket” refers to being a few ughits short of an eggcorn. The substitution of “rocket” for “rocker” may be motivated by images of rockets traversing the “vacuum” of space. Possible semantic influences from “space cadet” and “spaced out” and from the antonym “feet on the ground” are also possible. I have listed some web samples of the eggcorn below. I suspect that most of these substitutions are eggcorns. They may also be idiom blends, but the “rocket” side of the blend is hard to nail down.
Apparently “off one’s rocket” has been recognized as an independent idiom for some time (See http://books.google.ca/books?q=%22off%2 … 0rocket%22 and http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&hs=Pu … +rocket%22). This does not make the phrase any less an eggcorn, of course, but it does raise the question whether the instances of “off one’s rocket” found on the web are fresh eggcornings or proliferations of an earlier eggcorn.
Blog fiction episode: “Are you off your rocket?! Your parents are mutants.” (http://www.gotfuturama.com/Multimedia/E … ds/4ACV04/)
Response to Yahoo question: “You have to be off your rocket to think that you have a chance against a NINJA! ” (http://qc.answers.yahoo.com/question/in … 806AAlEeTE)
Comment on MySpace video: “Karen you are insane, off your rocket, and mad just like Becki. ” (http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea … 1441667996)
West Indies cricket forum: “Need I say more. Unless Chris Gayle has completely gone off his rocket,...” (http://caribbeancricket.com/topic/892988/3)
Last edited by kem (2008-08-15 11:49:31)
A sort-of backwards one from this: “he took off like a rock”
Rocker and rocket could easily be fingerslip typos for each other on a qwerty keyboard, though rocker for rocket might be a bit more likely than the other way around. Still, it was one of those rare googlenonces:
Your software patch took off like a rocker and solved all. Much appreciation x …
(I’m sure there are other rocker for rocket ones, but this was the only “took off like a rocker”.)
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .