chalk » chuck

Chiefly in:   chuck (it) up (to)

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “When there’s irritability and high maintenance in a child, most people may just chuck it up to normal childhood.” (Tina Benitez,, Oct. 7, 2007)
  • I think you want to be able to chuck it up to him being young and stupid. I know it would help me think of the world as less of a scary place if that were the case. (alh63, Salon letter to the editor, Mar. 26, 2009)
  • And he collected these winnings in no more than a six month period, which he chucks up to good luck. (Punter's Hero, May 23, 2011)
  • “Overall, we played with some effort we had energy; we played hard it just wasn’t as good of quality as we needed and a lot of it I will chuck up to (lack of) experience.” (Troy Maroney, Brookings (S.D.) Register, Aug. 25, 2011)

Analyzed or reported by:

In the Eggcorn Forum, kem writes:

If our plans misfire, we can chalk it up to experience and go on. “Chalk it up to” means to attribute to, with overtones of bringing the matter to closure. The idiom, which has been with us for several hundred years, may derive from an early alehouse custom of writing customer tabs on a slate with chalk.

Hundreds of web sites think that the idiom is “chuck it up to” (See examples below.). But what is it about “chuck” that licenses its substitution for “chalk” in this idiom? Some possibilities:

  • To “chuck up” can mean to vomit. I don’t think this is in view in “chuck it up to.”
  • An old sense of “chucking” is throwing. We still use it in sport contexts to refer to throwing a ball (“Just chuck the pigskin in his direction: the new wide receiver can vacuum up anything.”).
  • An extension of this sense of “chucking,” sometimes phrased as “chucking up,” gives us the meaning of throwing over, giving up, discarding. (“If the boss says one more word I’m going to chuck this job.”). To “chuck it up to experience,” then, might refer to giving up on (=chucking) an effort by consigning it to (=chucking it into) one’s basket of bad experiences.

There may also be some cross-fertilization from the idiom “chucking in the towel,” a circumlocution for quitting.

See also chalk » chock, chock » chalk(ed).

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2011/09/03 |

chalk » chock

Chiefly in:   chock (it) up (to)

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Chock it up to just another amateur exhibition of a lack of administrative ability,” said Georgia pollster Claibourne Darden. (John King, Associated Press, The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, NY, June 4, 1993)
  • Chock it up to the wildly popular Visa check card, which accounts for about one-third of all Visa dollar growth volume. (San Francisco Business Times, Mar. 26, 2003)
  • Chock it up to competition — that’s the American way. (Joel Widzer, Travel Tips, Sep. 14, 2005)
  • I chocked that up to a waiter with a serious chip on his shoulder. (Algene, Washington City Paper restaurant rater review, Feb. 24, 2006)
  • With such a worldview, individual success and happiness could only be chocked up to positive inborn traits and fortuitous circumstances. (Carl O'Donnell, Yahoo! AssociatedContent, Aug. 24 2010)
  • As easy as it would be to blame ourselves, quit the investigation before it begins and chock it up to a simple, self-deprecating condemnation - this time we may just be spared. (Andy Collier, The Post, Ohio University, Sep. 15, 2010)
  • This feeling has pervaded the franchise and its fan base for almost a quarter of a century and the mystery behind its cause has been philosophically chocked up to the ineffable, existential pain of being the “other baseball team” in town. (Thornton McEnery, New York Observer, Sep. 1, 2011)

Analyzed or reported by:

See also chalk » chuck, chock » chalk(ed).

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2011/09/03 |

disingenuous » disingenuine

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “… and those who say that while he [Bob Dole] may need to develop a few oratorical skills — like building an argument rather than stating the bottom line — he would come across as disingenuine if he suddenly adopted a high-blown rhetorical style, which he probably would refuse to do anyway.” (link)
  • Many of the veal industry lobbyists flew to Sacramento in California to testify against our State legislation, which, by the way, makes it a little disingenuine when they talk about there is plenty of State legislation that would outlaw this cruelty, when, at the same time, they are fighting these very efforts on the State level. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Neal Whitman, Garson O'Toole (ADS-L postings 9 and 11 April 2011)

O’Toole on the two examples above: (1) In 1996 a New York Times writer used “disingenuine” and the editor did not block it. Cite: 1996 March 10, New York Times, POLITICS: BOB DOLE; Political Mechanic Strives for Big Picture by Katharine Q. Seelye, Page 1.18, New York. (ProQuest); (2) On June 6, 1989 a Congressional Subcommittee Hearing was held concerning the “Veal Calf Protection Act”. One of the participants was Bradley Miller, Executive Director, Humane Farming Association, and he used the term “disingenuine”.

Whitman had a cite from a friend’s Facebook update and gave links to the Urban Dictionary, Verbotomy (”the create-a-word game”), and Wordnik. A few occurrences are deliberate inventions, but many of the others appear to be spontaneous.

The eggcorn has the flavor of a portmanteau of disingenuous and genuine.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2011/04/11 |

one such » once such

Classification: English – resyllabification

Spotted in the wild:

  • Web services is once such technology. (link)
  • Australian football is once such example. (link)
| Comments Off link | entered by Lee Rudolph, 2010/04/11 |

ilk » elk

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Without addressing these issues, NOW and others have nothing to offer the average Jane and in consequence, have allowed Sarah Palin and her elk to define women’s issues. (New York Times Opinionator blog comment, Dec 4, 2009)
  • My believe, today, is that this fool POTUS and his elk will crash and burn under their own wight. ( forum comment, Dec 4, 2009)
  • Her [Lakiha Spicer] and her elk are low quality people. (The Hollywood gossip blog comment, June 17, 2009)
  • Why can’t we, as a society, treat eachother with a bit of respect and give Madonna and her elk the 1st class treatment she deserves! (London Evening Standard comment, July 28, 2009)

Analyzed or reported by:

There is no obvious semantic link between the noun _ilk_ “sort, kind” and the animal of the family Cervidae, so this substitution surprises at first and cast doubt on its status as a genuine eggcorn.

Occurrences of _X and his/her/their elk_ are, however, readily found in online writing, and some of them are clearly systematic and non-accidental: The writer for _Leadership Nigeria_ employs the expression no less than 5 times.

On Language Log, reporting on Nancy Friedman’s original Sarah Palin example, Ben Zimmer offers some thoughts on what may be going on here:

> There’s nothing in the comment to suggest that this substitution was the result of intentional wordplay, but it’s hard not to think that the slip was influenced by Palin’s well-documented love of hunting big game in Alaska like moose and caribou. […] And perhaps the commenter is from a part of the country where milk is pronounced as [mɛlk] (say, Pittsburgh, Utah, or Washington State), rendering ilk and elk homophonous, or nearly so. Add the fact that ilk is a low-frequency word that lingers in crystallized idiomatic usage (”of X’s ilk,” “X and his/her/its/their ilk”), and it’s clear to see that this is a prime candidate for eggcornization.

Meanwhile in the Eggcorn Forum, our regular contributor Kem Luther finds a particular affinity between Sarah Palin and the _ilk>elk_ eggcorn, thereby strengthening Ben Zimmer’s point of a Palin -> Alaska -> elk connection:

* _And it is Palin and her elk that are running everyone else out of the republican party._ (Reader comment on Talking Points Memo)
* _i would rather be in hell first, than have anything to do with Christians like Sarah Palin and her Elk._ ( forum)

This is notwithstanding the fact that _Cervus canadensis_ is not specifically typical for Alaska. On the other hand, British English admits _elk_ for the animal called _moose_ in American English - compare with _Elch_ in German - and it should be noted that some of the cites are from British and Irish sources. (More on this topic in Bill Poser’s LL post.)

But to paraphrase commenter marie-lucie on Ben Zimmer’s article, if there is Artemis and her stag, why not Sarah Palin and her elk?

As the examples, show, however, the substitution is more than a Palin-specific nonce-eggcorn. It may still be questionable, used by writers who pronounce _ilk_ as [ɛlk] ans spell it phonetically; or it may reflect a genuine ideation of a cervid stand-in for the extension of the person who is the target of the speaker’s, or writer’s, finger-pointing.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2009/12/11 |