pains(-)taking » pain-staking

Variant(s):  pain staking

Classification: English – resyllabification

Spotted in the wild:

  • “After all of my pain-staking labour :) I’ve discovered fontforge will automatically create encoding files for you. (I’m glad I did it all manually coz I learned a fair bit about stuff.)” (link)
  • “This will be a pain staking ordeal. Why you may ask well because my ass … So as I begin this pain staking ordeal…” (link)

The first citation was supplied to me by John McChesney-Young on 16 December 2004. Huge numbers of examples can be Googled up.

A nice recutting, suggesting that “take pains to” is either not as widely known as I’d thought or is often not appreciated as the source of “painstaking”.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/05/07 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Richard Carroll , 2006/03/31 at 12:38 pm

    I spent about the first fifty years of my life believing that “painstaking” meant pain was at stake. Why isn’t it pronounced “painztaking”? Also, is this a special kind of eggcorn, where the mistake is hidden, because it’s pronounced and spelled the same as the original?

  2. 2

    Commentary by Chris Waigl , 2006/04/19 at 3:37 pm

    In a classic case, the original and the reshaping (eggcorn) sound the same. Those where they are also spelled the same are what we call “hidden eggcorns” — and you could indeed make a case for _painstaking_ being a hidden one.

    (I, too, thought that the word came from _pain_ plus _stake_, but I always have the non-native speaker excuse.)

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