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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2011-03-21 16:29:38

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2601

second sense

I’m writing myself a citation for a careless idiom blend. Or at least I think is an idiom blend. While on a mushroom foray yesterday, when my body and mind were fatigued, I mentioned that someone seemed to have “a second sense” about where to find the rare spring mushrooms. As soon as I said it, I knew something was wrong. In a few moments I had it sorted. The phrase should have been “sixth sense,” an expression coined from the belief that humans have only five senses and that any perception which can’t be traced to one of the five must be a undefined “sixth” sense. Apparently I had blended “sixth sense” with “second sight,” an old (seventeenth century) phrase referring to the occult ability to see something as present even though it is far away.

Misery loves company. I checked the web to see if anyone else had fallen into this linguistic trap. The phrase “second sense” referring to the ability to sense supernormally is extremely common, so common that I won’t even bother giving examples. You view part of the carnage here.

The phrase is so widely used, in fact, that I began to wonder if “second sense” might really be an idiom in its own right, independent of “second sight.” I couldn’t locate “second sense” with the meaning of “insight” or “extrasensory perception” before the early 1900s, however. The Google N-gram shows that the term “second sense about,” though it started showing up at the turn of the twentieth century, became more prevalent after 1940.

I lean toward the belief that we are looking at a blidiom, but one that has been around for more than a century and that is so widely employed that it no longer feels like a blend. What do others think about this?

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2011-03-21 18:45:33

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154

Re: second sense

Amazingly common is the seventh sense , which if it is the source of second sense has the phonological similarity for making this an eggcorn.

My grandson Silas is the second son of a second son of a second son of a second son of a second son. A lot of people who hear that somehow think they’re hearing “seventh son”.

*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 .)



#3 2011-03-22 03:58:23

From: Spain
Registered: 2009-08-15
Posts: 428

Re: second sense

A scant two years ago Democrats were in second heaven as Barack Obama carried Indiana en route to the presidency.

She loves Barbie and she loves having her hair curled ~ put the two together and we are in second heaven.

Last edited by JuanTwoThree (2011-03-22 04:00:18)

On the plain in Spain where it mainly rains.



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