Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
“in a jam” 498,000 counts, means in a predicament or troublesome situation. Merriam-Webster defines jam in this sense as “a difficult state of affairs”.
“in a jamb” 499 counts, many of which are actually intentional puns because something was actually stuck in a doorway, or are literal descriptions about doing carpentry.
However, the citings below don’t seem to be puns.
“Online lenders were left in a jamb. ”
“The only exercise many people in a jamb get is: jumping to conclusions, sidestepping responsibility, pushing their luck and running their friends down. ”
“These are a few of my favorite things!
Well, not really, but, when you’re in a jamb, that odd little system variable can mean the difference between bald patches and a full head of hair. ”
http://mistressofthedorkness.blogspot.c … -2006.html
I realize that this is a case of homophones, and could just be a mis-spelling. However, for anyone who’s ever gotten their fingers trapped in a door or tried to pass through a door while others were coming the other way, the image of being squeezed into a door-jamb might be a pretty good metaphor for the original meaning of “in a jam”.
And here it is in the opposite direction (from a post on an online bulletin board):
We also have a separate exterior door jam (about 83”)
There are a zillion hits for “door jam” on the ‘Net. An eggcornish meaning confusion is pretty clear: a door can be stuck tightly against its jamb, as when the wood swells in wet weather, so that you have to jam it shut, or something else can be jammed between the door and the jamb.