first of all » firstable

Variant(s):  secondable, thirdable

Classification: English – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • Firstable, the term “indian” and christianity were imposed in Peru through blood and fire by European conquerors. (Marxism mailing list, Jan. 28, 1996)
  • Here is an essay written as part of the admissions procedure for our University Honors Program… “Firstable, to stay away from the reality of those traps that people are facing, I would be felt some classes if I weren’t focus.” (HAPP mailing list, Oct. 26, 2000)
  • I have many ways to explorate but firstable, I would like to work on relations between the “recall” of roman empire and colonial theories / words / language. (H-West-Africa mailing list, Mar. 3, 2002)
  • Well firstable thanks so much to you and to Wuwei Liang because it is a very helpful tool. (VMD mailing list, Nov. 8, 2005)
  • Well, firstable, it was very boring. (Freshman Seminar @ Baruch College, Dec. 3, 2009)
  • Firstable you have to know that the room and bathroom were very dirty and unhealthy. (TripAdvisor, Jan. 8, 2013)
  • Firstable, you’re asked to pay your room in advance. (TripAdvisor, Oct. 3, 2013)

Analyzed or reported by:

This eggcorn may be more common among non-native speakers who lack a phonemic distinction between /b/ and /v/ in their L1. (See Wikipedia on the ban/van merger.)

In the Eggcorn Forum, alexkrich writes: “This seems to be a word that is still recognized as incorrect by most people, and is mainly used by non-native English speakers unfamiliar with the phrase ‘first of all.’ This is compounded by the dubious construction ’second of all,’ which suggests to the casual listener that ‘-able’ is an ordinal suffix.”

The Stranger’s Josh Feit writes: “There’s a slightly new meaning here. ‘Firstable,’ I think, could be a noun that means the item that comes after the expression ‘First of all.’ Example: The case against Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was compelling and lengthy. The fact that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeada is firstable.”

BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick observes that “’secondable’ is also becoming a thing” on Twitter, but “luckily, ‘thirdable’ hasn’t caught on just yet” (though it is attested).

On, Alison Lynch notes that “we even have a Twitter account @1stofall_ that corrects people when they use ‘firstable’ by mistake.”

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2014/11/12 |

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