Eggcorn Forum

Discussions about eggcorns and related topics

You are not logged in.


Registrations were closed for a long time because of forum spam, but I have re-opened them on a trial basis.

The forum administrator (chris dot waigl at gmail dot com) reserves the right to request users to plausibly demonstrate that they are real people with an interest in the topic of eggcorns. Otherwise they may be removed with no further justification. Likewise, accounts that have not been used for posting may be removed.

Thanks for your understanding.

Chris -- 2015-05-30

#1 2012-05-20 18:58:39

Dixon Wragg
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 837


I encountered this in a chat-list post: “Liith is said to be a fierceful type.. against the male.. yet.. whenever there is a solar eclipse and Lilith is nearby.. the Eclipse is not total but annular or partial…”
Probably a blend of “fierce’ and “fearful” in many cases, possibly an eggcorn in at least some cases. Googling the word and then screening out repetitions, usage of the word as a screen-name, etc. from a random sample of Google pages left me with around 300 unique hits. Quite a few of them come from people for whom English is clearly at least a second language, like the caption “Polite tiger but fierceful” under a picture of a leopard. Other typical examples:

Fierceful battles, heavy losses

Queen Yuna the Fierceful Guinea Pig

Do I look fierceful enough?

She never forgets how fierceful her math teacher was…

Though Meng is a very evil looking, fierceful guy…

Strike down, this fierceful entity.

Such a fierceful appearance

Having A Fierceful Attitude



#2 2012-05-21 11:51:36

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2292

Re: fierceful!

The OED, which cites “fierceful” from the seventeenth century, says it is now obsolete. The comment itself is obsolete. “Fierceful” lives and breathes. Many of the modern examples of “fierceful” – perhaps all the ones you cite – are the result of tacking the ”-ful” suffix (=characterized by) onto “fierce.” See copyeditor comments about disambiguating these two words. It may be that familiarity with “fearful” licenses these “fierceful” recoinings in some mysterious way, but I would not want to call these examples eggcorns.

On the other hand, there are certain quasi-idiomatic phrases with “fearful” that should not contain “fierceful.” These may be eggcorns. Take, for example, “fearful odds:”

A 1989 newsletter: “Notwithstanding, the movie succeeds to reflect the overwhelming sense of commitment in the face of fierceful odds put in the way of justice and peace by South Africa’ s special branch police officers .”

Beadwof sorrows at the proud (fier) Romo-Gallic pre-emption of Anglo-Saxon “fearful.”

Last edited by kem (2012-05-21 11:57:54)



#3 2012-05-22 02:26:48

Dixon Wragg
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 837

Re: fierceful!

OneLook found no references to “fierceful” in any of the 40 dictionaries it scanned for the word. I guess the OED wasn’t one of them.

I think that in many (most?) cases, “fierceful” can’t be attributed simply to the process of people adding the suffix ”- ful” to “fierce”. If that were the explanation, wouldn’t we also expect to see “fastful”, “strongful”, “smartful”, “boldful”, etc. etc.? We do commonly see nouns with the ”- ful” suffix added, such as “beautiful”, “awful”, “careful”, “prideful”, but we don’t often see adjectives with the redundant addition of the adjectival suffix ”- ful”; it wouldn’t make much sense. That’s why, I think, we must posit another factor to explain the origin of “fierceful”. In the vast majority of cases (possibly excepting usage by linguists or history buffs), we presumably can’t explain the modern use of “fierceful” by invoking the user’s knowledge of the obsolete word, because very few people know of that word’s existence. The only plausible hypothesis I’ve come up with to explain “fierceful” is that it’s a blend of “fierce” and “fearful” which reflects an eggcornish connection between the meanings of the two words. The existence of phrases like the one you cite, kem—“fierceful odds”—in which “fierce” is clearly substituted for “fear”, increases the likelihood that in most cases “fierceful” is a blend of “fierce” and “fearful” rather than just an instance of people’s adding the adjectival suffix ”- ful” to a word that’s already an adjective. I think this situates “fierceful” squarely in eggcorn territory.



#4 2012-05-22 10:09:11

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1335

Re: fierceful!

See also fiercesome. Other than the reasonable homophony of ‘fierce’ and ‘fears’, there is the odd duality of ‘fearful’ that permits it to describe both timidity and ferocity.

During fearsful war between Rama and Ravana several monkey worriers were killed by the enemy forces.
Natural medicine



#5 2015-08-12 16:45:10

Dixon Wragg
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 837

Re: fierceful!

I recently heard about a species of Australian snake called the fierce snake. It immediately occurred to me that some would hear it as “fear snake”. Indeed:

The most dagerous snake in world?
Best Answer: That’s a tough one! the Fir DE Lance in South America, the Fear Snake in Australia, or the African Black Mamba.
Q&A site

In a FedEx commercial a few years ago, Irwin introduced us to the “Fear Snake,” “the most venomous snake in the world.”
article about Steve Irwin

what is the world’s most venomous snake? I believe it is Australia’s Fear snake.
another Q&A site

There are many rumors saying that the Boomslang has taken over the fear snake (inland taipan) what do you think is the deadliest snake is?
reptile site

Surely it’s an eggcorn. Fierce things stimulate fear.



Board footer

Powered by PunBB
PunBB is © 2002–2005 Rickard Andersson
Individual posters retain the copyright to their posts.

RSS feeds: active topicsall new posts