reproach » approach

Chiefly in:   above/beyond approach

Classification: English – questionable – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • “I think he would want to be above approach even when it’s from a state commission and not a private lobbyist.” (Kathleen Clark, quoted by the St. Louis Dispatch on 30 May 2006)
  • “I must say that his stewardship of this as Executive Director in the past almost three years now has just been above approach, and I would like …” (link)
  • “As a person who has spent a life time in the construction business, I can assure you that Midwest’s work was above approach. They did an excellent job of …” (link)
  • “I know I sin everyday but i strive to live in a manner that is above approach. Meaning no one can come and questioon me aout the way I live b/c I will live …” (link)
  • “Government actions in the employment, procurement and contracting markets should be beyond approach, and it should lead by example wherever and whenever …” (link)
  • “His creativity is beyond approach. The first bunch of his books all feature “Monsters” for lack of a better word.” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Jim Parish (American Dialect Society mailing list, 30 May 2006)

Parish reported on ADS-L: “In this morning’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there’s an AP story on Sen. Harry Reid, who accepted a questionable gift from the Nevada Athletic Commission. Kathleen Clark, an expert on congressional ethics at Washington University in St. Louis, is quoted as saying” the first cite above. Parish added: “If it’s a deliberate coinage - above being approached? - it strikes me as halfway clever, but there’s a definite eggcornish flavor to it.”

Eliminating duplicates, I found 88 Google webhits for “X above approach”, where X is a form of be. Most of them are relevant, and almost all of those look inadvertent.

“Above approach” is certainly a malaprop, with the relatively rare “reproach” replaced by the very common “approach”, but I’ve marked this one as “questionable” as an eggcorn because I’m not sure how approaching enters into the perceived meaning of the idiom, especially with reference to abstractions rather than persons. However, the last of the “above approach” cites, with its explanation that “no one can come” [i.e. approach] and question the writer’s manner of life, suggests a possible contribution. And maybe the development of “beyond approach” provides an explanation.

The “beyond approach” webhits include many like the last cite above, in which the expression seems to mean ‘beyond approaching, unapproachable, first-order’ (similar to “beyond compare” ‘beyond comparison, incomparable, first-order’), with no possible reproaching alluded to — presumably the malaprop “beyond approach” reinterpreted more or less literally. The next-to-last cite could go either way, and might represent an intermediate step on the way to literal reinterpretation.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2006/05/31 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Amanda , 2006/08/18 at 5:43 pm

    It is questionable with the Post-Dispatch example whether Clark actually said “approach.” It seems likely to me that she said “reproach” and the reporter got it wrong–hence the lack of “sic.” Certainly this still serves as evidence of the eggcorn, but perhaps not as evidence that a professor used it.

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