Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Medical professionals occasionally produce lists of mistaken word usage by patients. Though occasional wonderfully creative, these purportedly genuine quotations are more often farfetched, and a search on google rarely provides any backup evidence. An example that has been cited in the medical and lexicographical literature back into the 19th century is “haricot veins” for varicose veins. I couldn’t find any credible hits for this one. It appears in the literature as an example of uneducated speech:
beyond a haricot vein in one of my legs I’m as young as I ever was.
The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler, before 1884
Unaccountably, though, I did find a few hits that go the other way: thinking that green beans might be called haricot veins. Because they look like varicose veins? What a horrifying image! Some connection to the veiny string in string beans? Check out the last example below and be amazed.