mondegreen

noun

mon·​de·​green ˈmän-də-ˌgrēn How to pronounce mondegreen (audio)
plural mondegreens
: a word or phrase that results from a mishearing especially of something recited or sung
One of the reasons that "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" substituted for Jimi Hendrix's "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" remains one of the most widely reported mondegreens of all time can be explained in part by frequency. It's much more common to hear of people kissing guys than skies. Expectations, too, play a role. You're much more likely to mishear "Cry Me a River" as "Crimean River" if you've recently been discussing the situation in Ukraine.Maria Konnikova
Renaissance dramatists loved mondegreens. Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor," for example, features a whole scene of them, when the innkeeper Mistress Quickly has trouble understanding a Latin lesson and interprets pulcher ("beautiful") as "polecats."Melissa Mohr
Incorrectly heard lyrics are called "mondegreens." The word originates with journalist Sylvia Wright, who wrote a column in the 1950s in which she recounted hearing the Scottish folksong The Bonny Earl of Morray. Wright misheard the lyric "Oh, they have slain the Earl o' Morray and laid him on the green" and thought it was "Oh, they have slain the Earl o' Morray and Lady Mondegreen."Maclean's (Canada)

Examples of mondegreen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These funky musical mishearings even have their own name: mondegreens. Popular Science, 23 Jan. 2020 That’s called a mondegreen, when a word or phrase is created after mishearing something said or sung. Southern Living, 8 Sep. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mondegreen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

from the mishearing in a Scottish ballad of "laid him on the green" as "Lady Mondegreen"

First Known Use

1954, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mondegreen was in 1954

Dictionary Entries Near mondegreen

Cite this Entry

“Mondegreen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mondegreen. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!