samblind » sand-blind

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • Lippio, to be poreblynde, or sande blynde. (Sir Thomas Elyot, Latin-English dictionary, 1538)
  • This is my true begotten Father, who being more then sand-blinde, high grauel blinde, knows me not. (Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, 1596)
  • Sand-blind - Having a defect in the eyes, by which small particles appear to fly before them. (Samuel Johnson, Dictionary, 1755)
  • He is bald, sand blind, grey-haired. (Charlotte Brontë, Shirley, 1849)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Stephen Ullmann (Semantics: An Introduction to the Science of Meaning. Oxford: Blackwell, 1962)

All examples quoted here are from the OED; I first learned of this eggcorn from Ullmann (1962).

In the original samblind, the sam- is cognate with semi-; the original meaning is ‘purblind’, as Elyot indicates. The reanalysis of sam- as sand has not only altered the form of the word, but has influenced its interpretation as well, as exemplified by Shakespeare’s sand/gravel pun and by Johnson’s “small particles” definition.

The original samblind is long gone, and even the new form is labelled “arch., poet., and dial.” by the OED.

| link | entered by Q. Pheevr, 2005/05/21 |

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