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#1 2013-04-29 22:40:07

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 650

"hellion" for "hallion"

From a recent Dictionary.com “Word of the Day” email:

Hellion entered English in the mid-1800s from the Scottish and Northern English word of unknown origin hallion meaning “worthless fellow.” When this word crossed the pond, the “a” in hallion was replaced by an “e,” supposedly because of associations with hell.

That etymological process seems eggcornish to me. In fact, since “hallion” seems to be in current use, however rare, in some circles (it’s listed in just two of the many dictionaries accessed by the OneLook dictionary aggregator site—Wordnik and Urban Dictionary), I would say that “hellion” for “hallion” is an eggcorn. What say y’all?

Last edited by Dixon Wragg (2013-05-06 10:26:59)

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#2 2013-04-30 05:17:27

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2152

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

An eggcorn, and a good one.

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#3 2013-04-30 19:14:50

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1780
Website

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

An overly successful eggcorn, i.e. a folk-etymology. Only we pedants would know or care about hallion . (In fact I didn’t know about it before reading your post.) Like any other folk-etymology, it was presumably a good solid eggcorn when it first occurred.
.
Despite etymological dictionaries’ not mentioning it, I wonder if there’s any connection between hallion and rapscallion ? (The only hits I found for Rapskellion were names or Internet handles. I still wonder if anybody out there says it that way?)

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2013-04-30 19:27:49)


*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 .)

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#4 2013-05-01 00:35:13

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 650

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

DavidTuggy—Wordnik and the Urban Dictionary both mention “hallion” without designating it as archaic or obsolete. This seems to imply that it is in current usage, however rare, as slang or otherwise. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be an eggcorn and not just a folk etymology derived from a past eggcorn?

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#5 2013-05-01 03:05:57

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1780
Website

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

Not for anybody who never heard it or read it. I don’t think I had. As far as current usage goes, hellion is (relatively) well-established, and hallion is very marginal. It’s possible that there’s somebody out there who heard “hallion” and thought “hellion—that’s a good name for a hell-bent hell-born rake-hell. I’ll use it!”. If so, that person would be committing an eggcorn. I’m skeptical that anyone alive has done that. I think most of us only ever heard or saw “hellion”, and took it from there.
.
Folk-etymologies don’t need to be 100% non-recoverable for 100% of the population to count as such.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2013-05-01 03:08:29)


*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 .)

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