Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
One of my students in Santa Fe, New Mexico, just referred to the ^ as a “carrot top” or “caret top”. It wasn’t the right time to question her about it or correct her.
Does that count?
Okay, how about this: “On most graphing calculators your exponent key is the carrot top key: ^.” and many other occurrences at “College Algebra Tutorial 42” at <http://www.wtamu.edu/academic/anns/mps/math/mathlab/col_algebra/col_alg_tut42_expfun.htm> or <http://ca.jdeer.com/l51.htm> (the texts seem very similar).
The reason this one stumps me a bit is the addition of “top”, which makes it slightly atypical: the “top” part is not phonetically justified by anything that is present in “caret”. I haven’t had the time to look into the examples; and I’m a bit confused about how the caret resembles the top of a carrot. Which end of the carrot is the top anyway? Presumably the one that is closest to the surface, right?
Questions over questions…
The only other examples I’ve found: “Thank you, but how did you make the carrot top symbol, I forget.” <http://library.thinkquest.org/20991/gather/calc/messages/3331.html>
“And, yes, I have read all the Ama50n reviews.) (And why doesn’t my keyboard have a Carrot Top Symbol on it anymore?) Seriously, anyone know about these things?” <http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:H-JkaPun9GsJ:www.suchbullshit.com/phpBB2/posting.php%3Fmode%3Dquote%26p%3D528%26sid%3D2f027ccc66c001bb39b7d54d3fe4b757+%22carrot+top+symbol%22&hl=en> or <http://snipurl.com/jz18>. (Thanks to Google for caching.)
I too am stumped by the semantic connection, but as I mentioned in a.u.e., the addition of “top” proves that people must be thinking of some connection—an odd situation!
“Carrot top” means the leafy part of the carrot plant, which has no resemblance I can see to the caret. Or conceivably the top of the root, ditto. Or it means a redhead, ditto. My best guess is that “carrot top” is a well-known phrase (828,000 Google hits), and the ^ has no connection with carrots but it does with tops, so for people who don’t know “caret”, “carrot top” is at least a half-sensible name for that symbol.