Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
It seems to me that ‘in the sticks’ is frequently heard in the news and the expression is really ‘beyond the Styx’. If you Google “in the sticks” it brings up 450,000 hits!
This must be an eggcorn. Any thoughts?
Welcome to the Eggcorn Website, Gillieson,
I had a little discussion on sticks and Styx here:
Out in the STYX (sticks) by jorkel Contribute! 0 2007-06-09 13:16:29 by jorkel
Last edited by jorkel (2007-11-04 12:19:05)
As Jorkel pointed out in his post, “the sticks” refers to wooded areas out in the country. I’ve always assumed that the phrase was supposed to have a dismissive, urban-hipster air to it—as if the city-slicker who’s speaking considers living trees and dead wood to be more or less equivalent.
I’ve never heard “beyond the Styx” used to refer to the boondocks. Does anyone use it that way? It’d make a certain degree of sense: for the true downtown scenester, the countryside might really seem like the realm of shades.
As far as I know, however, the two phrases are independent of each other. I doubt one arose as an eggcorn of the other, but I find Jorkel’s finds entertaining.
For anyone wanting a shortcut to Jorkel’s interesting post, it’s here: http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=1804
In reply to patschwieterman, I admit that as a relatively elderly graduate of one of those posh British private schools, I often heard the phrase “beyond the Styx” used in exactly the way thay “in the sticks” is nowadays commonplace. In my youth (1950s) the two phrases were not just independent, the second did not exist! I repeat my assertion that this is a true eggcorn. I rest my case.
This may be a case of an American/British split. I used books.google.com to search for examples of “out in the sticks” published before 1950, and I got many hundreds of hits. (Though admittedly only the citations of books—not journals/magazines—are relatively trustworthy.) In fact, the first page of hits had a citation from a book published in 1917, and there are lots of hits from the 1920s and 1930s. I only had time to look at a few, but the earlier citations all looked to be American.
It’d be interesting to pursue this one further in datable newspaper archives—the situation is clearly more complex than either Gillieson or I thought.