Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
“Within certain perimeters”: 512 google hits
I find this to be a compelling eggcorn because ‘perimeters’ suggests a boundary, which is the whole point of staying within certain parameters.
On the one hand you are right about the “boundary” sense, but on the other hand, both “parameter” and “perimeter” are difficult, Latinate (or Greek, as it were) words. So for some, the mix-up between the two is certainly just a malapropism. I’m not convinced that the sense of “perimeter” is well-understood by those who write “within certain perimeters”. Which is the reason this one hasn’t been added.
Actually you can make a case that the eggcorn goes the other way. The mathematical term “parameter” does not mean a limit or boundary, it just means a variable that can be given a range of different values to describe various situations. The colloquial use, as in “staying within the parameters”, could well have originated through confusion with “perimeter” which does mean (the length of) a boundary.