Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Moribund comes from the Latin adjectival gerundive form that we would call “dying”. No other words in English that retain this part of the ”-ibundus” ending come to mind; its obscurity leaves it open for mutation. Bound can mean “headed in the direction of” among other things; it can also mean “tied up”. So moribound can be a reinforcement of moribund, meaning bound for death.
While not a eggcorn for the ages, I think “moribound” might fit the eggcorn bill. Otherwise, it is a blend. There is first-person testimonial evidence available in support of blending in the first example.
Commenter: Rather than being moribound by old habits and old ways of doing business which was the Rumsfield/Cheney appraisal of him Shinseki gave off the air of being a cautious administrator
Responder: As an aside, you made a pretty unique error there – I think you meant to say “bound”, not “moribound”, although the way of thinking you say Shinseki wasn’t bound by does indeed sound “moribund”!
Commenter: thanks for the grammatical correction. Apologies. How is this a unique grammatical error? I don’t mean to come across as an ignorant hack. I meant to say trapped to death by old habits and I wasn’t sure how to say it consicely.
Responder: you definitely don’t come across as an ignorant hack; i hope i don’t come across as a pedantic prick. it’s unique to me because i’ve never seen it before, and also because it sort of made sense – it had the right verb and also a good adjective, only they were combined portmanteau-style.. i was like, ‘far out’.
come to think of it, that might be a good candidate for a new word – ‘moribound’ meaning ‘trapped to death by old [obsolete] habits’. Coates, alert the lexicographers, and let’s start a web meme
(http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.com/ … inseki.php)
Plant pest monitoring
Consistency is needed in classifying and determining if beetles are alive, moribound, or dead
(http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/ … toring.pdf)
Edit: See also Pat’s “vagabound” for vagabond (link)
Last edited by David Bird (2009-10-30 19:50:04)
You’re right—it’s weird how rare the “bund” suffix is in English. And it’s hard even to look up examples—in the OED’s etymology for “moribund,” they indicate a link to an article on the suffix, but in the electronic edition, at least, there’s no article that I can find.
“Floribunda” roses spring to mind. And then there are also “pudibund” (“prudish”) and “furibund” (“angry”). There must be more, but I couldn’t turn any others up in a quick check.
Strictly speaking, the ”-bundus” ending is not a Latin gerundive, either in form (a gerundive is an adjective molded on the present participle and there is no Latin verb present participle ending in buns ) or in meaning (doesn’t have the “ought to” sense of gerundives). The ”-bundus” ending is just a trick the Romans used to turn verbs into adjectives. If ”-bund” has any semantics, it suggests that the action describe by the verb is a continuing one. See the discussion of this popular Latin ending at http://verbosum.blogspot.com/2008/12/fa … undus.html .
You can add to your English -bund terminations the words “cogitabund,” “errabund,” and “ludibund.” My (no longer) secret site for finding these spelling patterns is http://chir.ag/projects/tip-of-my-tongue/ .
But, yes, knitpicking aside, “moribound” is an extremely common eggcorn. Well-spotted.
Last edited by kem (2009-10-31 01:14:35)
These are wonderful words. They seem so self-evident and eloquent. As blends they might be equally useful: pudibound. Cogitabound. Like muscle-bound. Errabund looks predisposed to conflation with error and abundance, though apparently it’s closer to erratic. And I loved some that are gone now: lascivibund meant “playing”; it would be used differently today.
I did find one live one in the wild:
Before I start to examine the amazing Lies Bleeding the blind, i must state that I am a furibound death metal fan, whose encounters with power metal, though not limited, are still much pasionless and cold…
Isn’t the -bond in vagabond cognate? (It’s vagabundo in Spanish: you also have errabundo , also meaning ‘wanderer’, and others there.) There may be a few hits with vagabund: those I saw were in, or likely influenced by, German.
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
Syncornicity. I was editing my post above as you entered yours.
Just pondering a bit these “-bound” eggcorns in words such as “moribound” and “vagabound” (See also the discussion here.). Perhaps we have not milked all of the eggcorns from this suffix..
The two meanings that David B mentions:
Bound can mean “headed in the direction of” among other things; it can also mean “tied up”.
stem from different roots. The “tied up” sense of “bound” is the past participle of the Teutonic “bind.” The “headed in the direction of” meaning derives from the medieval English word “boun,” meaning to “be/get ready.” This second sense of “bound” appears in the adjectives “homeward bound (i.e., ready to go home),” “outward bound,” “upward bound,” “heaven bound,” “bound and ready”, and even in the verb of the idiom “bound to [lose/win/fail/etc].”
I think there may be some confusion which “bound” is being used in the “moribound” and “vagabound” eggcorns. Does “moribound” convey a sense to the speakers of “headed toward death” or does it mean “tied down by death?” Or is it both? At any rate, “moribound” is only one instance of a deeper and more systematic confusion between these two “bound” suffixes. When some people say they are “outward bound,” do they conceptualize this as “tied to something that leads one away?” Does “homeward bound” mean to some people “securely fixed to thoughts of home?” Have we here, in short, a hidden eggcorn in which people substitute one meaning of “bound” for the other? The OED, by hinting that “boun” may have received its “d” from a mix-up with “bound,” points us in this direction.