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#1 2019-09-19 03:10:05

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2349
Website

Whither < wither

in an entry on wither < writhe here Kem wrote:

The real gem you uncovered, in my opinion, is “whither” for “wither.” One could easily believe that the notion of withering away could be transmuted into the idea going somewhere, know not whither.

Whither is especially apropros as an eggcorn when talking about the dissipation ( fading away into thin air ) of something cloudlike, and a good many usages of withering away fit that description. But Kem’s explanation (the two being compatible, not at all contradictory) covers many non-cloudlike construals as well.
.
It’s amazingly common, and certainly not limited to cases where it collocates with away. Surely some of these connections are active for some of those who spell it this way. Even for those of us who systematically distinguish wh from w, in our pronunciation the sounds are very close.
.
Some examples:

But probably many new constructions are temporary, they will whither if not reinforced. Fads in words, or fads in constructions, are probably temporary, relatively weak constructions .

I feel as if he would whither away and die

remembering the horror of watching the man whither and die, unable to stand life

[a] look that was meant to whither her

Not only did Professor Jones give the class a withering look, but he also assigned 20 extra pages of homework

The elegant lady he had come to know had whithered over the last days.

Instead, it poured a whithering fire into follow-on units in front of the Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield, and the area around the Peach Orchard.

With smarter management, Sears could have done much better. Some sectors are just meant to whither away, however.

Humans weren’t meant to whither away in an office for five days and lounge on the couch all weekend.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2019-09-19 07:59:30)


*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 .)

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#2 2019-09-22 14:44:28

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2719

Re: Whither < wither

The likelihood of making this mistake may depend on where you live. The wine-whine merger: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wine-whine_merger


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#3 2019-10-17 02:19:18

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2349
Website

Re: Whither < wither

Instead, it poured a whithering fire into follow-on units in front of the Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield, and the area around the Peach Orchard.

Maybe a whithering fire is one that makes you wonder, bewhildered, “whither can I flee”? That’s a bit different from an outsider’s wondering “whither did they go?”, which is more the take described above.
.
(fwiw, bewhilder does show up:

His musical talent on this elegant rod of bent metal will bewhilder you and bring as many tears to your eyes as a sack of uncut onions.

)


*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 .)

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