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Chris -- 2011-03-08

#1 2011-08-05 02:35:47

Registered: 2010-08-21
Posts: 3

sad sack -> sad sap?

On the CE-L (copyediting listserv), an editor asked about the use of “sad sap” in the manuscript she was working on. “Sad sap” appears to be a common enough expression now, but I’m wondering if it might be a reanalysis of “sad sack” based on a mishearing of “sack” as “sap,” a mishearing that might have come about owing to the fact that “sack” doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you know that it’s short for a derogatory expression (and without the prepositional phrase that makes the expression derogatory, the stress pattern is different—the stress is on “sad” in “sad sack” but on “sack” in “sad sack of X,” making “sad sack” by itself even harder to parse).




#2 2011-08-06 16:06:03

From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 971

Re: sad sack -> sad sap?

Very nice eggcorn. It’s surprisingly common. Your story of the etymology makes sense, but is still shocking to my prairie-boy, “Sad Sack” cartoon-reading ears.



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