row » roll

Chiefly in:   cornroll

Variant(s):  corn roll, corn-roll

Classification: English – vocalized /l/

Spotted in the wild:

  • [an African American hair stylist advertises that they can do] “corn rolls for you.” (West Philadelphia local paper, Westside Weekly, 2-8 September 2005)
  • “Hi, I really want to learn how to cornroll hair and add extensions to it.” (link)
  • “With grain, a lot of eye make-up, or those ladies who corn-roll their hair like a lot of little braids, and hang Lifesavers and lights and buttons and …” (link)
  • “I really want a crazy hair style like corn rolls but i have hair that is only the lenght of my chin.” (link)
  • “Caramel Expressions, Yorktown, “VA, Virginia - Owner operated. Specialties include silk twists, pixie braids, box braids, micro braids, corn rolls, kin…” (bizyooo, Business Yellow Pages)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Damien Hall (American Dialect Society mailing list, 5 September 2005)

“Cornroll”/”corn roll”/”cornroll”, both noun and verb, referring to an African American braided hairstyle that has now spread more widely, is a natural reshaping of the original “row” version, since the braiding involves rolling the hair through the fingers (though the result is not something that would normally be called a roll — but other hairstyles are so called). The phonology is that of /l/-vocalization, which figures in other eggcorns reported on here.

Google web searches (on 5 September 2005) show fair numbers of “roll” spellings in association with the word “hair”:

“corn roll”: ca. 408, vs. “corn row”: ca. 5,390

“cornroll” (including “corn-roll”): ca. 742, vs. “cornrow” (including “corn-row”): ca. 24,100

In contrast, there were only three “corn role” and four “cornrole” (mis)spellings in association with “hair”. And only one relevant “corn roe” and three “cornroe” misspellings.

[CW, 2005/09/05: Arnold Zwicky and I entered this eggcorn within one minute of each other. I have added some examples to his entry and deleted the duplicate.]

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/09/05 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Damien Hall , 2005/09/06 at 1:38 pm

    The *Westside Weekly* ‘corn roll’ was actually spotted as an eggcorn by Suzanne Dorf. I merely reported it!

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