Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Billing some one out of jail must mean footing the bill, or purchasing their freedom by the laying on of bills.
i reached home about 2.30am in the morning… my mum went to bill me out..
(http://queenlicious.blogspot.com/2004/1 … e-soo.html)
Rebelious acts- Daniel Radcliffe- part 1- Mom can you bill me out?
(http://www.quizilla.com/stories/7389132 … ill-me-out)
One wonders whether “bail out,” as in bail out of jail, is a hidden eggcorn for many people, who connect it with bailing out a boat. These are two different “bails,” the nautical sense coming from a late Latin word for bucket and the jail sense from a French legal term for delivering goods held in trust.
The blues standard “Key to the Highway”, first recorded in 1940, starts out: “I got the key to the highway, and I’m billed out and bound to go…” Since this song, like so many old blues tunes, is a reworked version of older songs, it’s impossible to say how old that “billed out” line is, but this use of “billed out” for “bailed out” (if that is indeed what it means in this song), unarguably dates back 70 years at the very least. So, if it’s an eggcorn, it’s a pretty old one. I’m wondering if maybe it’s a correct usage (by the rules of some ethnic or regional dialect) rather than an eggcorn; who’s to say whether that usage of “billed” came about through an eggcornish misunderstanding or some other way?
There are legitimate uses of “bill out”, without a doubt. The use of bill as a verb for requesting payment or for other fiduciary transactions goes back 700 years. My guess is that the “billed out” in The key to the highway would be “paid up”, or “waybilled”. Probably the former: the road is my new digs on account of how bad you done me.
As for the Wall Street bail out, if that phrase is not nautical, it would nevertheless fit. There is considerable room for confusion among the many meanings of bail, in combination with bale and bill. Some online dictionaries throw up their hands and call bail/bale alternative spellings, despite their distinct origins. Beyond the homophony, each of these words presents interesting and eggcorn-primed possibilities, each being the product of more than one etymological history.
Last edited by David Bird (2010-02-21 20:41:09)
Saved by the bell?