Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
The source of “fawn over” seems to be the old “fain” (I’m fain to admit). Speaking of the archaic “fain to admit” (=either disposed to admit or reluctant to admit)—lots of “feign to admit” examples on the web.
The obscurity of fain leads other to see it as vain. “I vain would admit” might be seen as an unpunctuated adjective: “I, vain, would” or it might imply that the desired activity will be in vain. Some of these hits are from the olde days so they may be mistranscriptions, or intentional puns.
This knife! now let me prove if it will sever
This wither’d slip of nature’s nightshade—my
Vile form—from the creation, as it hath
The green bough from the forest.
[Arnold places the knife in the ground, with the point upwards.
Now ‘tis set
And I call fall upon it. Yet one glance
On the fair day, which sees no foul thing like
Myself, and the sweet sun which warm’d me, but
In vain. The birds—how joyously they sing!
So let them, for I would not be lamented:
But let their merriest notes be Arnold’s knell;
The falling leaves my monument; the murmur
Of the near fountain my sole elegy.
Now, knife, stand firmly, as I vain would fall!
[_As he rushes to throw himself upon the knife, his eye is suddenly caught by the fountain
Beneath the cross of Kirkus I vain would take my stand
The shadow of a mighty rock within a hipster land
By this time you may surely guess
The truth I vain would hide,
And pardon a rough soldier’s words
While I tell you how he died.