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Registrations were closed for a long time because of forum spam, but I have re-opened them on a trial basis.

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Chris -- 2015-05-30

#1 2017-02-26 18:42:56

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2540

retaining/retraining order << restraining order

In a long-ago discussion about some of Paul Brian’s lists of common errors in English, we noted the confusion of “refrain” and “restrain.”

There is some evidence that this confusion carries over to “restraining order,” giving us “refraining order.” An example:

African forum: “That person might have to sign a refraining order. ..or any other contract that says nothing must happen to her or he’ll be held responsible.”

It is hard to tell how common this error is, however, because there really is such a thing as a “refraining order.” It is typically employed to keep authorities from taking away your driver’s license.

What we have not yet noted here is the replacement of “restraining order” with “retaining order.” As in:

Advice on a Canadian family law forum: “If he continues to lie and harass you by contacting the FACS you will seek to obtain a retaining order

There does seem to be something called a “retaining order” in British law, but it is hard to find out much about it. Most examples of “a retaining order” on the web seem to be eggcorns for “a restraining order.” “Retaining” changes the image behind the legal action—a person has to “retain” their distance.

A funnier eggcorn, in my opinion, is “retraining order” for “restraining order,” as in:

Blog entry: “A retraining order does offer several important legal protections, especially if you are in a situation where you have to defend yourself against your abuser.”

Self-published book: “I filed a retraining order and when I tried to explain that I needed supervised visitation the judge hollered ‘no!’ at me then looked away.”

Law forum: “Can I file a retraining order from Michigan even though she resides in California?”

In this eggcorn, the goal of the legal action has a higher moral purpose. You don’t just want to keep the jerk away. You want to encourage him to change his bad habits through supervised training.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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