Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
(My first post to this forum, so, er, hello!)Heard today on Radio 4’s lunchtime news programme The World at One: the phrase “urge on the side of caution”, used by the presenter, Shaun Lay (at least, I think it was him) in an interview about registered sex offenders.
I’d never heard this one before, and I wondered whether I’d simply missed something very common, but Google offers only 60 instances of this against 424,000 for “err”. I’d place it as an eggcorn (rather than a malapropism etc), but I’m open to correction.
To follow up my own post, it seems intuitively reasonable that someone who has never seen the phrase in writing could hear it as “urge” in the sense of advise, recommend, suggest, or “give one’s support to the side of caution”. Most of the Google entries make sense read in this way. (There are fewer than 60 hits: some of them are duplicates, and one or two are pointing out the “err-urge” substitution.) For example, “Bottom line is, if you are unclear, then please – urge on the side of caution, and simply do not allow the post, and tell people why it’s a bad thing, and ask the poster to rewrite, according to the rules.” (Design for Community website, 15 August 2001.)