Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2018-04-11
I have always thought safe deposit box was the correct term, and that safety deposit box was eggcornish. “Safety” deposit box grates on me in the same way that “hot water heater” does.
As I always understood it, a safe deposit box was a box where you deposit valuables, said box being in the bank’s safe. A deposit box in the safe. Safe being the location, not an adjective describing the relative security of the box.
To my ears, safety deposit box has always been an eggcorn, because the imagery is different – the box is named not for its location but rather for its perceived security or its purpose. The phrase safety deposit box also just sounds clumsy to me, which is part of why I just assumed it wasn’t the original term. It just sounds like an eggcorn, it’s understandable why people would use it if they heard but didn’t fully understand “safe deposit box.”
It seems that its becoming more commonplace though… even in “official” uses. So, what do you think? Is it an eggcorn? Is it a former eggcorn that’s in the process of becoming legitimate use?
Sounds eggcornish to me
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will buy a ridiculous hat – Scott Adams (author of Dilbert)
Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day; set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life – Terry Pratchett
I always thought the origiinal is “safety deposit box,” and people found that extra syllable awkward and unnecessary, and they lopped it off.
But even if it was first a deposit box in a safe, this is not necessarily an eggcorn.
The fact is that today’s boxes are not IN a safe. They are in a vault. And sometimes there in a separate vault just for such boxes and not the bank’s main vault of cash.
And so it’s understandable that the industry would embrace a term that more accurately reflects what they are delivering to customers.
I don’t think it’s an eggcorn at all.
Jim Baumann, word guy at the Chicago Daily Herald, has a column that mentions “safety deposit box” as an eggcorn: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/201906 … ning-round
Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.
Since the banks call it a safe deposit box, I take that as the real (original) name. I don’t think of “safe” there as the location, but as an adjective, so it would be better spelled as safe-deposit box, being a box where safe deposits can be made. I think “safety deposit box” is just an error that developed, similar to “daylight savingS time”.
I, too, am annoyed by “hot water heater”, because it heats cold water, not hot. I’m sure, though, that it is a blend of “water heater” and “hot water tank”, which are two common names for the appliance.
“I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin
Or, a box where your deposit will be safe, so that the adjective safe modifies the (deposit) box rather than, or at least more directly than, the deposit. (The deposit is not guaranteed to be safe unless it is in the box.)
(Our training in either/or analysis does not allow for an adjective to be ambiguous or vague about which noun it is modifying, but I think in reality it happens much more often than you would think. The comment is intended as an explanation for the words “at least more directly than” above.)
(fwiw I too feel like safety deposit box is a bureaucratese accretion on a simpler base.)
Last edited by DavidTuggy (2019-06-18 21:33:23)
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
Another tiny tweak of meaning in this simbling:
Opting for a saved deposit box can be costly you are still required to transport your gold back and forth from your bank.
... you must have spent and keep the rest in your account , at home or a saved deposit box which ever you feel is better ,till I come over.