Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Leavings from my file of “tendentious spellings.” These are words that are misspelled in a way that introduces another word and the replacement fits in with the semantics of the replaced portion. I’m not sure that any of these four are eggcorns – call them eggcorn wannabes.
(1) Ragoo. A ragout is a thick stew. If it’s really thick, is it a ragoo?
: “ To please a hungry husband she advocates a meal of sliced cows’ feet, or a ragoo of pig’s ear garnished with barberries.”
“Ragoo,” by the way, is a well-established spelling. It shows up as an alternate of “ragout” in the early part of the nineteenth century.
(2) Toedy. “Toady,” a word used to describe a flatterer/sycophant, is a nineteenth-century shortening of an earlier “toad-eater.” A toad-eater, says the OED, was “the attendant of a charlatan, employed to eat or pretend to eat toads (held to be poisonous) to enable his master to exhibit his skill in expelling poison.”
Could the spelling “toedy,” as in this example:
: “But don’t expect India to be a toedy.”
be importing the image of someone kissing toes? Or an image of a conformist “toeing the line?”
(3) Melancolic. A person who has a melancholic temperament was once thought to have an excess of black (Gr. melan- ) bile (Gr. cholia). Melancholic people are sulking, angry, despondent. Similar, perhaps, to a colicky baby—which may explain some examples of “melancolic” written in place of “melancholic.”
:) “If you’re into melancolic rock music, check out the tunes on….”
“Colic,” by the way, has nothing to do with bile: it is a cognate to “colon.”
(4) Shitchat. Chitchat can be boring, but if it gets too boring and trivial, it’s “shitchat,” at least in the minds of a number of web page authors. An example:
: “well im not really trying to get anything outa this just want to have a nice shitchat with people about this matter, but people tend to go aggressive or not give any useful arguments/statements”
“Shitchat” may be nothing more than a semi-phonic misspelling. It could, though, be edging into eggcorn territory.
I don’t know enough people who talk about ragout to have a notion if any of them might think it is so called because it is gooey . I suspect the differences in register between the words might keep them apart in people’s minds. Similarly with toedy it’s a word I don’t hear used, and the putative meaning connections to toe are slight enough to make me doubt its eggcornhood.
Melancolic is different, though. I would be surprised if some don’t think the second stem is colic . Both colic and melancholic are medical terms, and they fit together well. I think it is almost certain to be an eggcorn for some.
Eggcorn or not (and it may well be for some), I love shitchat as a new synonym for .
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .