Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2015-05-30
Notably, none of these figures are particularly close to the Clintons, and the choice of Kennedy in particular—the scion of a different dynasty—may help damp down speculation that Clinton is in the running.—Ben Smith’s blog at Politico.com, June 04, 2008.
2. damp down
a. to reduce the intensity of (someone’s emotions or reactions): they attempted to damp down protests
b. to reduce the flow of air to (a fire) to make it burn more slowly [Middle Low German: steam] —The Free Dictionary http://www.thefreedictionary.com/damp+down
Areopagitica, ‘This was it which had dampt the glory of Italian wits.’ The original sense of the verb ‘to damp’ was to suffocate, which explains the phrase ‘to damp one’s spirits’ (cf. ‘doleful dumps’). It survives in ‘fire-damp’ and ‘choke-damp,’ and the phrase to ‘damp down a furnace,’ i. e. to exclude the air from it.—from an annotation to “Paradise Lost” by The Rev. H. C. Beeching, 1887.
Last edited by Jim Dixon (2008-07-08 15:05:39)
Both of these expressions are valid, and both relate to fire. You can damp a fire with water or with a damper. You can tamp a fire with a tamper. It probably would be impossible to distinguish an eggcornish tamp>damp, because the distinction is too subtle, and because the speaker would deny making a mistake.
The two words, damp and tamp, I believe, really are the same word if you go back into history. e.g. This and Dis/That and Dat, but not e.g. Tome and Dome, or ??? This T and D thing goes way back: Deus and Theus (both Latin) and Zeus (Greek). What would you say about Tits and Ditz? You may have to go into Yiddish etymology to find this answer.
I just ran across another example of this one, but going the other way. It uses ‘tamp’ where I would have used ‘damp’. I vote eggcorn.
By causing male rats to make more testosterone, Toxoplasma may do more than spread itself to other rats. Testosterone also tamps down fear.
http://thechronicleherald.ca/science/23 … n-teach-us
The citation you give—couldn’t the person could have meant “tamp down?”
There is an eggcorn in the damp >> tamp direction, however. We can see this in the phrase , The user starts with “dampen,” an alternate form of “damp,” and transforms it into “tampen.” “Tamp” has no alternate ”-en” form.
Yes, they might have. But it would be odd in the circumstances. Hormones don’t tamp down fear, they damp it down. Things to tamp down: soil, tobacco, ground coffee, gunpowder. Things to damp down: fear, fire, excitement, speculation. If they had meant ‘tamp down’, it would be at a minimum a flounder, but I still vote eggcorn.