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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2012-06-03 16:57:05

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2589

coevil << coeval

In his new compilation of eyewitness accounts to the last days of World War II ( Five Days that Shocked the World ), Nicholas Best writes about how Private Peter Ustinov, a member of the British army’s film unit, was one of the first to see the gruesome film clips taken during the liberation of the concentration camps. In a quotation reproduced in Best’s book, Ustinov argues that the stories about residents near the camps not knowing about the atrocities in the camps were credible. Assumptions that “a consciousness of war crimes” were “almost co-evil with their occurrence” were unwarranted.

Changing the Latin-derived “coeval” (“of one age”) to “coevil” seems more than justified in the case of the concentration camps. Writers with much less justification also have a penchant for confusing “coevil/co-evil” and “coeval” – the web has dozens, perhaps hundreds of examples. The sense is perhaps “sharing bad times with.”

Three instances:

Blog article: “we wind up with ‘issue smog’ in which runoff from dog parks somehow becomes coevil with contaminated ground water from refineries. ”

Web thread on ancient Egyptian chronology: “Manetho, himself, seems to have put the end of the 19th Dynasty as being coevil with the Trojan Wars. ”

Actor’s blog entry: “Bible literalists seem to believe in a force of ‘evil’ coevil with a force of ‘good’ (Darwinism being a force for evil), that is, they seem to believe as much in Satan as they do in God. ”

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2012-06-18 22:31:46

From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1101

Re: coevil << coeval

For what I recognize now as eggcorneal motivations, I’ve always associated the word coeval with Eve. It’s no big step from there to co-evil. The “co-evil” eggcorn, appropriately, goes way back. This quote is from a book of insufferable witticisms that are mostly damn squids.

SIMILE a figure of ſpeech familiar to man, and probably co-evil with the uſe of the human tongue ; made uſe of by writers of the highest endowments, and the most illiterate of clowns.
The lounger’s common-place book, 1798

Last edited by burred (2012-06-18 23:22:29)



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