Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
This is a confusion I have heard more and more of late – that someone has “the tenacity to suggest” something, for example. I suppose it makes some degree of sense if one is holding a view that is against the norm or in the face of concerted opposition.
I did a quick Google search and found about 437 entries for “tenacity to suggest”, vs. 43000 for “temerity to suggest”. I think this could be an eggcorn for the reason you cite. It takes some stubbornness as well as recklessness maybe to suggest something that goes against the common wisdom.
When one doesn’t understand the true word being used, one will find the closest facsimile and put it in there instead. I suppose one could just stick to words one knows, but many would rather take a risk at looking smart. After all, they know the context of the use and the general idea they wish to convey so, why not? Plus, then we wouldn’t have such entertainment. I’m gald people try; I just wish they would learn the corrections.
“It’s better to be silent, and thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”- always heard it was Lincoln, but have also heard it was Mark Twain and others.
By the way, if the new word being used is not understood, the construction is a malapropism. If the new word is understood and used properly—creating a new context—then the construction might be an eggcorn. Eggcorns are not generated by an effort to use impressive words, though; the utterer must not be aware that an alteration of the original construction is taking place. Otherwise, the alteration would simply qualify as a pun (or fall in some other category). Perhaps a better adage to describe the generation of eggcorns is: “Nothing is obvious to the uninformed.”