gobbledygook » garbledygook

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Our advice is never wrapped up in technobabble or garbledygook; we give concise advice that’s direct and to the point. (Jackson Begg company description, retrieved 2008-08-31)
  • if you leave behind all your ex-sunday-school garbledygook and really read the new testament with a mind open to understanding what christ was getting at, it becomes apparent that fighting poverty, throwing off oppressive government, and uniting as a community to tackle difficult social problems are the main themes. (tribe.net forum, June 7, 2005)
  • Now here in GA I use Harcourt Math. In some ways I like it better than Trailblazers because it has a lot of practice exercises and less garbledygook. I know that the garbledygook (word problems, experiments, stories) is important for building problem-solving skills, but I have a lot of ESL students here too, and they struggle SO much with that. (Livejournal iteach3rdgrade community discussion, Jan 27, 2008)
  • It looks like a bunch of garbledygook but can be useful for support purposes. (thevBgeek wiki, retrieved 2008-08-31)
  • I am tempted to respond to your random garbledygook with the garbledygook that I’ve been reading, but I will not. (blog comment, May 01, 2007)

Analyzed or reported by:

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2008/08/31 |

curb » curve

Chiefly in:   curve one's hunger , curve one's appetite , curve one's enthusiasm

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “This will help you curve your appetite and cause you to eat less. Eat complex carbohydrates.” (link)
  • “Curve your enthusiasm! As yesterday, today you can find pessimistic headlines talking once again about housing problems…” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Paul Brians, Common Errors (link)
  • jorkel and others, Eggcorn Forum (link)
  • brians and others, Eggcorn Forum (link)

Brians: “A “curb” was originally a device used to control an unruly horse. Already in the 18th century people were speaking by analogy of controlling their appetites as “curbing” them. You do not “curve” your hunger, appetite, desires, etc. You curb them.”

Curb ‘control’ survives only in this metaphorical use, so it’s ripe for eggcorning.

(Suggested to me by Lee Rudolph.)

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2008/08/29 |

slings » strings

Chiefly in:   strings and arrows

Classification: English – citational

Spotted in the wild:

  • Bogged down by the strings and arrows of outrageous urban life? This cyberspace exhibition is the ideal place to visit and unwind. (Spider Magazine, May 2002)
  • The Numatic CTD-572 Carpet Cleaner has become popular as a contractor’s machine, providing not only exceptional power and performance required for this kind of application but also the ruggedness needed to take on the strings and arrows of commercial life. (Janitorial Direct (UK), product description, retrieved 2008-08-26)
  • Likewise, the Romanians’ yearning to keep their identity through Christian faith, as a people confronted constantly with the “strings and arrows” of fate, their need for stability and security may account for the great number of churches and monasteries raised all over the country. (Orthodoxphotos.com, retrieved 2008-08-27)
  • Over at John August’s blog, he brought in this recent LA Times article, There follows a great discussion on the strings and arrows of a novelist’s demands and furies after a novel was adapted into an underperforming film. (personal blog entry, Dec 12, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

The Eggcorn Database has listed _stings and arrows_ for over 3 years, but _strings and arrows_ eluded us for a long while, even though it arguably makes just as much sense.

Many web hits are, of course, for literal (bow) strings and arrows, but searching for the sequence “strings and arrows of” we can estimate the frequency of this reshaping as about half that of the _stings and arrows_ citational eggcorn.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris W. (admin), 2008/08/27 |

tatterdemalion » tattermedallion

Variant(s):  tatter-medallion

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • I’d also highly recommend “Tatterhood” (as opposed to “Tattercloak,” which is a variant upon 510-B). “Tatterhood” features a queen desperately longing for a child, when one day she spies a tattermedalion child running about her courtyard. (SurLaLune Fairytales forum, June 25, 2004)
  • A large, silk-covered ottoman had been reduced to a tatter-medallion, a turd had been deposited in the toilet. (Will Self in the Independent (UK), Oct 29, 2005)
  • He submerges himself in the offal commerce of Smithfield and the tatter medallion on offer in Petticoat Lane. (Will Self in the New Statesman, Oct 16, 2000)

Analyzed or reported by:

_Tatterdemalion_ is a rare and rather dated word, used either as a noun referring to a person dressed in tattered clothing, or as a synonym for “tattered” or “ragged”. The OED does not seem to have any usage examples post-1900, but they do exist: some can be found in Dictionary.com’s recent “Word of the Day” entry.

The _-demalion_ part of the word is obscure. AHD4 simply opts for “of unkown meaning”, whereas Dictionary.com adds “perhaps from Old French _maillon_, ‘long clothes, swadding clothes’ or Italian _maglia_, ‘undershirt’”; the OED calls it “a factitious element suggesting an ethnic or descriptive derivative”. Etymonline.com speculates about a possible reference to Tatars.

Spellings have varied. Again from the OED, 17th century cites have _Tatter-de-mallian_, _tattertimallion_, _tatterdimallians_, _totterdemalions_, _Tatterdemalean_ and more. What is clear is that _-demalion_ has nothing to do with _medallion_, except for being an almost-anagram and that however little sense _tattermedallion_ makes, it offers at least more of a hook for interpretation than the original does. Maybe, as jorkel speculates in the Forum thread, a “tatter(ed) medallion” implies “a certain fall from grace”.

The recast form _tattermedallion_ is by no means new. The columnist Will Self, twice cited here, appears to have a predilection for it (further cites from him exist). It also appears in a 1934 poem by Berton Braley on the buccaneer Henry Morgan:

>This is the ballad of Henry Morgan /
Who troubled the sleep of the King of Spain /
With a frowsy, blowsy, lousy pack /
Of the water rats of the Spanish Main, /
Rakes and rogues and mad rapscallions /
Broken gentlemen, tattermedallions /
Scum and scourge of the hemisphere, /
Who looted the loot of the stately galleons, /
Led by Morgan, the Buccaneer.

Even much further back, Peter King in his book _Crime, Justice, and Discretion in England, 1740-1820_ (Google Books link to p. 162) quotes a 1748 correspondent of the _Norwich Gazette_ writing about roads “lined with shoals of tattermedallions either begging relief with an air intimating that they will not be denied or boldly taking it pistol or cutlass in hand”.

An eggcorn with a long history, it appears.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris W. (admin), 2008/08/25 |

cold » coal

Chiefly in:   coal-hearted

Classification: English – final d/t-deletion

Spotted in the wild:

  • There’s nothing worse than reading a story in which every person you meet is either a coal-hearted villain or a pure sweet-blooded soul. (Amazon.ca customer review, May 31, 2004)
  • Some coal-hearted landlords have suggested that they are face-lifting a community in need of maintenance by tearing down and rebuilding at twice the original size and four times the original value, but I ask you: How can you afford to fix a roof that’s caving in if the sky is going to fall on your head first? (The Daily Tar Heel, Jan 16, 2004)
  • Folks, can you imagine how they must have felt at the moment they found out, fairly early in the date, that they weren’t dating a warm and engaging woman but a coal-hearted harpy. (blog post, Apr 21, 2004)
  • Initially I did not want to go to Disneyland because a) Huge chunk of my spending money would have to go there since, well, admission is not cheap izzit; and b) I’m old therefore the Disney magic would be lost on jaded, coal-hearted me. (blog post, June 15, 2008)
  • Were conservatives cruel and coal-hearted before Bush-Cheney? (Deroy Murdock, National Review Online, August 11, 2004)

Analyzed or reported by:

_Coal-hearted_ was first noted by our frequent contributor Ken Lakritz, who immediately pointed out the formal similarity to _goal standard_: deletion of the final consonant _d_, leading to a re-interpretation of the metaphor. A classic eggcorn.

This was, however, not the end. A year later, still in the Eggcorn forums, Peter Forster noted the curious expression _(a hooker with a) heart of coal_, which occurs in a reversal of the wide-spread cliché _… with a heart of gold_. Peter and our poster jorkel both supply numerous examples, and it is jorkel who links this image back to the eggcorn _coal-hearted_.

| Comments Off link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2008/08/25 |