The Ants Are My Friends: Send Us Your Favorite Mondegreens

The 2008 update of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition features a fresh crop of new words and phrases that have successfully become part of the mainstream English language through prolonged and widespread usage in a variety of publications. One of these new entries, mondegreen ("a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung") has delighted wordplay aficionados for years. Mondegreen was first coined by author Sylvia Wright in 1954 in Atlantic magazine, when she confessed to a childhood misinterpretation of the Scottish ballad "The Bonny Earl of Moray." When she first heard the lyric "they had slain the Earl of Moray and had laid him on the green," she felt terribly sorry for the "poor Lady Mondegreen."

A few more examples:

The ants are my friends = the answer my friend/is blowin’ in the wind
Bob Dylan, "Blowin’ in the Wind"

There’s a bathroom on the right = there’s a bad moon on the rise
Credence Clearwater Revival, "Bad Moon Rising"

Hold me closer, Tony Danza = hold me closer, tiny dancer
Elton John, "Tiny Dancer"

Do you have your own favorite mondegreens? Share them with Merriam-Webster’s online community! Just submit your mondegreen, the actual lyric, and the name of the song and artist below.

We’ll accept submissions until Friday, July 25, 2008. We’ll reveal our favorite of your favorites starting the week of July 28, so stay tuned, and remember:

"Row, row, row your boat, life’s a butter dream!"

Share this entry:    Share this word with digg Share this word with reddit Share this word with technorati Share this word with Share this word with furl Share this word with stumbleupon Share this word with google Share this word with blinklist Share this word with newsvine Share this word with facebook Share this word with myspace

Link to this page:   

To sign up for Merriam-Webster's free Word of the Day, click here.

Back to top

How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears