egg·​corn ˈeg-ˌkȯrn How to pronounce eggcorn (audio)
plural eggcorns
: a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase either on its own or as part of a set expression
Eggcorns … are a particular type of language error. Though incorrect, eggcorns are often more satisfying or poetic than the correct word or expression. If you didn't know how to spell the word "acorn," then "eggcorn" is a logical and satisfying alternative.New Scientist
Once described as a "slip of the ear," an eggcorn is the written expression of a plausible mishearing of a standard term. "For all intents and purposes," for example, is a set phrase—inherently redundant, perhaps, but it's the idiom. It gets misheard, though, as "for all intensive purposes," and sometimes appears that way in print. That's an eggcorn.Ruth Walker
This kind of phrase was named an "eggcorn" by Geoffrey Pullum, a linguist, in 2003, after that mishearing of "acorn". Many of them are quite logical, such as "wipe board" for "whiteboard", or "card shark" for "card sharp".The Independent (London)

Word History


after eggcorn, altered from acorn, an example of such a usage

Note: On a posting to the linguistics blog Language Log (September 23, 2003), the blog editor Mark Liberman reported second-hand on a woman who would allegedly write "egg corns" for "acorns." Liberman noted that this error was not exactly either a folk etymology or a malapropism or a mondegreen. In a supplementary note he reported that the linguist Geoffrey Pullum had suggested "egg corns" as the name for such mistakes, "in the metonymic tradition of mondegreen, since the eponymous solution of malapropism and spoonerism is not appropriate."

First Known Use

2003, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of eggcorn was in 2003

Dictionary Entries Near eggcorn

Cite this Entry

“Eggcorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

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