Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Thanks for your understanding.
Chris -- 2015-05-30
The clubhouse confession box is open for November. I step into the confession cubicle.
For a long time I misunderstood the phrase “crescent moon.” A crescent moon can occur during the moon’s waxing or waning, when the bright part of the moon’s round disk is less than half of the disk. So it seems that “crescent” is a shape and the shape is applied to the moon (i.e., the moon is one of the things that has a crescent shape; others include crescent rolls and the bowed line of houses that gives us the street name “Crescent”)
In fact, the moon is the source of the shape name, not the other way round. “Crescent” comes from the Latin cresco, which means “to grow, increase.” Originally the waxing moon in its early phases was the only “crescent moon.” The phrase “crescent moon” was soon extended, by ignoring the Latin source of the word “crescent,” to cover the just before the dark new moon. This set speakers up to generalize the word “crescent” to a shape. Which in turn laid the trap for me to assume, wrongly, that the shape word proceeded its application to the moon.
Confiteor Deo quia peccavi nimis cogitatione.
Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.
Ought to be a decrescent moon. (Read that sentence with steadily lessening amplitude of the voice — i.e. decrescendo , synonym for diminuendo in musical terminology.) But yes, waning crescent is a contradiction in etymological terms.
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .