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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2014-05-26 00:30:37

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2601

scramble, shoots and ladders

Card games – especially poker games – have contributed to our Forum’s fund of eggcorns. As poker fads have waxed and waned, they have left behind them a number of opaque idioms. We have noted jackpot, four-flushing, hole cards, etc.

Board games, that other great Zeitvertreiber, can also add to the eggcorn hoard. Board games are as old as civilization, but there was a large uptick during the early nineteenth century, which seems to have been, in part at least, a morals-based attempt to crowd out the influence of card games and gambling.

(1) We aren’t certain how the Scrabble game got its name. “Scrabble” is an ordinary, if somewhat rare, English word. It can mean to claw at, rake, scratch, scribble, scrawl. The Dutch-derived “scrabble” has been historically associated with the Latinate “scribble” in the reduplication “scribble-scrabble,” a popular word for careless writing. This “scribble-scrabble” idiom, some speculate, may be what the Scrabble game’s manufacturer had in mind when it baptized the board game in 1949. Some people, it appears, believe that the name of the game is “Scramble”—appropriate, given the desperation felt by players trying to find a place to play eight-letter words on a crowded board.

Picture title: “Senior woman and scramble board game ”

Student blog entry: “After all that work on Wednesday, now it’s time for you to let loose, break out the Scramble board”

Blog description of artwork: “LOVE spelled out with vintage playing cards and a scramble board with all of our names on it.”

(2) If you find Scrabble a mite too literary, you can always engage the nearest preschooler in a game of Chutes and Ladders, the name under which Milton Bradley popularized the ancient game of Snakes and Ladders. The name of the game, participating in the “chute/shoot” confusion documented in the Eggcorn Database, is occasionally cited as the “Shoots and Ladders” game. You climb up the ladders and shoot down the snakes, I suppose.

Title of a blog entry:Shoots and Ladders of Bipolar Disorder”

Title of picture on Flickr:Shoots and Ladders. Or ‘Snakes and Ladders’ as they say in Scotland.”

Coding forum discussion: “I would still like to create a shoots and ladders game since I created all the graphics for it.”

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2014-05-26 10:31:50

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154

Re: scramble, shoots and ladders

Or, do you climb the ladders and shoot (‘chute? or just sort of para-shoot?) down the shutes?
(Fwiw the cover art of “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (here:,Shoots%26_Leaves )has a ladder in it

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2014-05-26 10:36:12)

*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 .)



#3 2014-05-26 10:38:52

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1562

Re: scramble, shoots and ladders

Good ones. There is an interesting earlier comment by Pat on shoots vs. chutes.



#4 2014-05-30 02:31:31

Dixon Wragg
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1277

Re: scramble, shoots and ladders

When I was a little boy and first started hearing references to Scrabble, I was torn between hearing it as “Scrabble” and hearing it as “Scramble”. It sounded more like people were saying “Scrabble”, but Scramble had the advantage of being an actual word, while Scrabble, as far as I knew at the time, wasn’t. It took me awhile to sort it out. It sure seems natural for us to replace a previously unheard word with a familiar one, especially if the latter seems to make sense in context.



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