Eggcorn Forum

Discussions about eggcorns and related topics

You are not logged in.

Announcement

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 2013-04-29 18:40:07

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1246

"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 06:26:59)

Offline

 

#2 2013-04-30 01:17:27

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2575

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

An eggcorn, and a good one.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

Offline

 

#3 2013-04-30 15:14:50

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2130
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 15:27:49)


*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 .)

Offline

 

#4 2013-04-30 20:35:13

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1246

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?

Offline

 

#5 2013-04-30 23:05:57

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2130
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 (2013-04-30 23:08:29)


*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 .)

Offline

 

#6 2018-02-03 16:01:44

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1246

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

DavidTuggy wrote:

As far as current usage goes, hellion is (relatively) well-established, and hallion is very marginal.

I became curious enough about these words to investigate them using the Google Ngram. I got two surprises. If the hellion, hallion Ngram is to be believed:

1. Currently, “hallion” occurs more than half as often as “hellion”.

2. “Hellion” predates “hallion” by more than a century—(early 1650s as opposed to late 1750s). This seems to contradict the etymological info I quoted in the initial post of this thread, as well as this info from the Online Etymological Dictionary: “Hellion n. ‘naughty child or person,’ 1811, American English, altered (by association with Hell) from Scottish/northern England dialectal hallion ‘worthless fellow, scamp’ (1786), a word of unknown origin.” This raises a couple of questions: How did my etymology sources miss the instances of “hellion” going back as far as the 1650s? Which is more authoritative, the Ngram viewer or my etymological sources?

Any thoughts on this?

Offline

 

#7 2018-02-04 16:51:53

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1096

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

What are your etymological sources for earlier uses of hellion, Dixon? All of the apparent early hits provided by the ngram are duds. The early hits for hallion are mostly for someone of that name, as well.

Offline

 

#8 2018-02-04 17:15:40

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1246

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

burred wrote:

What are your etymological sources for earlier uses of hellion, Dixon? All of the apparent early hits provided by the ngram are duds. The early hits for hallion are mostly for someone of that name, as well.

The only source i had for those early uses of “hellion” was the Ngram line graph. I always forget to check the book search at the bottom of the Ngram page. I only noticed the book search function recently and have only looked at it once before. I assumed that the graphed info would be backed up with references; why else would they draw that line on the graph? I’m confused now. May need to edit or delete my comment…

Offline

 

#9 2018-02-05 08:29:59

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1002

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

May need to edit or delete my comment…

No, don’t do that, Dixon, your misapprehension helps others – me in particular – from falling into the same trap. And thanks for hallion – like David T it was new to me. In fact hellion I know only from a 1961 film called ‘The Hellions’ and I’ve seen no reference to it since. I did hear heller used a lot in Cornwall, particularly with reference to females oddly enough – it’s usually used, dictionaries tell me, of wayward young men.

Offline

 

#10 2018-02-07 12:35:58

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2575

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

The link Dixon posted is a little deceptive because of some early (pre-1800) anomalous data. If you look at the two terms since 1900, it’s clear that “hellion” is the more common.

David is right, though, the surname “Hallion” is messing up the data. Just to the right of the ngram search box, there is a little check box that can make the ngram search case-sensitive. Doing that removes most of the “hallion” hits, making it clear that “hellion” is the spelling of choice.

Unchecking the box and rendering the ngram search case-sensitive, of course, does not change the examples presented at the bottom of the page. Those examples are not taken from the ngram dataset. They are what you get when you do a Google Books search, which is not case sensitive.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

Offline

 

#11 2018-02-07 13:32:40

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1096

Re: "hellion" for "hallion"

Aha, thanks for that information on how the ngrams site works, Kem. It explains a lot.

Offline

 

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