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#1 2008-09-25 01:20:51

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2653

tooting around << tooting around

“Tooling” was a slang term first adopted by English speakers in the nineteenth century. It initially referred to driving a team of horses. By extension it came to refer to any kind of vehicular navigation and eventually to a species of aimless and irresponsible vehicular wandering. The word is mostly defunct now as a general verb. It’s most common use is in an idiomatic form, “tooling around.”

The phrase “tooting around.” which occurs on the web and in COCA at about one percent of the frequency of “tooling around,” is used in almost the same sense as “tooling around.” The web has hundreds of examples (see three of them below). I’m not sure how “tooling” turned into “tooting.” The word “toot,” I know, can refer to excessive drinking or to taking cocaine. It has this meaning in the idiom “off on a toot.” Possibly there is some blending of idioms, with the idle driving of “tooling” compared to the aimless meandering of an inebriated tooter. It may also be that the frequency of horn use in car cruising motivates the switch to “tooting.” In any case, we seem to have a deliberate semantic switch and not an accidental mishearing.

Web fiction, about a sailboat: “Every weekend in the summer we’d take it to the reservoir and toot around on it, all three of us jammed in” (http://www.failbetter.com/11/ShepardProjectX.php)

Blog entry: “That night I again had to borrow the truck to toot around the ‘hood and noticed that it was at 5km [Distance to Empty].” (http://lq2u.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_archive.html)

Another blog: “I’m going to take my 50 euro and see if I can find a scrappy road bike to toot around on for a few months.” (http://seenaterun.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_archive.html)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#2 2008-09-25 08:23:44

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2216
Website

Re: tooting around << tooting around

I sense a blend with “scooting”, and perhaps (also?) a spelling (not a pronunciation) blend with “footing (it)”.


*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 2008-09-25 12:37:59

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: tooting around << tooting around

I’ve heard people say “tootling around” also, which blends tooling and tooting.


Feeling quite combobulated.

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#4 2008-09-25 13:12:44

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2653

Re: tooting around << tooting around

Good observation, jonW. I had forgotten about “tootling.” “Tootling around” is at least twice as common as “tooting around.” About 600 ughits.

I’m not sure how “tootling” fits into the eggcorn issue. “Tootling”is a verb in its own right. It started out in the nineteenth century as vivid way of describing chatter, twaddle. By 1900 it was used for walking “casually or aimlessly; usu. const. along, around, etc. Also transf. with reference to motor transport; to tootle off, to go, to depart.” (OED) So “tootling around” could also be source of “tooting around.” It’s possible, I suppose, that “tooting around” borrowed from both “tooling around” and “tootling around.”


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#5 2008-09-25 13:23:26

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: tooting around << tooting around

And after I read your response, kem, it dawned on me that “tootle” might have come from “toddle” as well (which dates from the late 15th c. and itself might be related to “totter” or “waddle,” according to Random House Webster).


Feeling quite combobulated.

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