The Top Ten: Eggcorns


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The Independent Culture

Eggcorns were named in 2003 by Geoffrey Pullum, a linguist, because this mishearing of 'acorn' is quite common.

This list was suggested by Georgina Wragg, who nominated 'cold slaw', 'dough-eyed' and 'wipe board' (for whiteboard). One correspondent said, 'From little eggcorns do mighty irks grow,' but these are charming.

1. Curve your enthusiasm Nominated by Citizen Sane

2. Damp squid Set off by James Chapman. Squib is an obsolete word for a firework or banger.

3. To all intensive purposes From Matt Prisseck and Andy Willetts.

4. Ex-patriot Nick Morris’s favourite: “Someone who previously loved their country but became so sick of it they relocated.”

5. Eaten mess From Luke Hildyard, who has also seen “mould wine” on a pub menu.

6. Duct tape Amazingly, it was originally duck tape – strips of cotton duck cloth (from Dutch doek, canvas) made adhesive on one side. With thanks  to Ben Stanley.

7. A doggie-dog world A former colleague who shall remain nameless.

8. Foe par Citizen Sane says he saw an email at work in which someone apologised for one.

9. Card shark For card sharp: David Artley thinks this must be the most common eggcorn.

10. To be pacific Heard by Lisa Markwell. Also, “pacifically”– Iain Dale

Next week: Political interviewers

Coming soon: Songs not as good as their intros (such as “Block Buster!” by the Sweet). Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to