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Here's another: the Donner Party Comma is the comma that makes all the difference between "Let's eat, Grandma!" and "Let's eat Grandma!"

Carol Saller

The Donner Party comma! My new favorite. Thanks, Stan.

Scott Rollans

I once had a co-worker's surname autocorrected from "De Napoli" to "De Nipple."

Patricia Boyd

One of the links you listed has "eggcorns," for a word or phrase of similar sound for the correct one. A common one in our local Pennysaver is "For sale: rod iron table and chairs."

Similar, but a tad different is this: How about a term for when you silently mispronounce a word when reading and don't connect it with the spoken word? Usually, you find out your error when you develop a close relationship and your partner says, "Huh?" when you mispronounce. My bad was "Tucson," which I silently read "Tucksin" in novels and which I assumed was a different city from "Tooson" I heard in the news. A friend's word was "voila!" which he silently pronounced "viola" (the musical instrument) in books and figured was a different term when he heard "Voila!" on TV.


@Patricia: My daughter and I, both voracious readers, have done that so many times! Sorry I can't remember any specific examples right now.

John Cowan

"You have deliberately tasted two worms and you may leave Oxford by the town drain." --the Spoo himself, according to local legend


If you haven't already, check out 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves'
(ISBN-10: 1592400876 ISBN-13: 978-1592400874)
It's full of such gems.


@Patricia, my own faux pas -- reading "misled" to rhyme with whistled and Betsy Buchanan as Betsy "Butch-a-nan," to which my sister burst out laughing. (I got my revenge when my brother read "melancholy" as "ma-LAN-cho-ly.")

Carol Saller

Mine was reading Melanie in Gone with the Wind as Muh-LANE-ee. (Sounds more southern, don't you think?)


Oh, the "Shatner comma" is going straight to my freshman comp. class! They all seem to have been taught to "put a comma wherever you would pause when speaking."

Of course, most of them were born after 1990 and probably only know Shatner from Priceline commercials. I'd better get some YouTube clips ready.

David Wade Smith

The Shatner comma is related to the Caruso ellipsis, which is accompanied in speech by the donning of sunglasses and a rapid turning away from the viewer, as in "We ... [sunglasses] ... have a killer."

David Wade Smith

Possibly my favorite crash blossom of all time: "Puppy Woman Tried To Mail Now Up For Adoption In Minneapolis" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/guess-puppy-mail-adoption_n_823628.html

Patricia Boyd

So glad to hear that I'm not the only silent mispronouncer! Muh-LANE-ee definitely sounds more Southern. Regarding me-LAN-choly, I think that four-syllable words are often mispronounced, or have two acceptable pronunciations, anyway: Cuh-RIB-ee-in, Care-ib-EE-in; ther-MOM-eter, thermo-MEE-ter. And Nicole, doesn't the recommendation to use a comma wherever you'd naturally pause in the spoken word make sense? That is, unless you are William Shatner.


I saw a great eggcorn on a message board today: someone is moving house in the middle of the school year and is worried about the "up evil" it will cause in her kids' education.

Having been a voracious reader nearly all my life, I have a largeish fund of silent mispronunciations. Imagine my astonishment when one of them surfaced in an otherwise excellent audio version of a favourite book: the reader pronounced "misled" as "MY-zeld"! The most embarrassing instance of this I've personally committed was the time I saw a sign advertising "sundried tomatoes" at the local Co-op and asked my mother, "What do you suppose sundry'd tomatoes are?"

Kim Stravers

1. I LOVE this post and all of the new terminology with which I may now further confuse my non-editor friends.

2. The proofer in me won't let this lie: "consonents." I believe you meant "consonants" in your Spoonerism entry, no? Forgive me if this seems rude, but it's a mighty compulsion... :)

Carol Saller

Sylvia-Rachel, thanks for the eggcorns--I love them. And Kim, thanks for pointing out the typo. I corrected it (I have to figure out sometime whether that's against the rules--does acknowledging it mitigate the crime of correcting it?)

Kim Stravers

Well, you're no Amanda Hess, so I'd be inclined to simply fix it with no fanfare. :)


Loved this ... and in exploring further, found Lillian Virginia Mountweazel's Facebook page:


FWIW, I actually live a few miles from the genuine if near-empty hamlet of Bangs, Ohio.

Betz Hippely

Oh, thank you all for providing me an amusing respite from the drudgery of income tax forms. In return I must share one of the many eggcorns I encountered during 25+ years of teaching high school English. A student writing about the basketweaving prowess of the Choctaw, described their efforts as meticulous and unhurried. “They never did anything half-fast.”

A crash blossom from a news item out of Lansing, MI: “Woman Steals Boa Constrictor in Pants.”


Great post, great comments! This is all so funny!

I hadn't heard bout the Shatner comma, but it immediately brought Christopher Walken's speech patterns to mind. There must be a Walken punctuation.

Silent mispronouncer here, too. I pronounced "Viola!" as "VeeOHlah!" for years, and always wondered how "wah-lah" was actually spelled. And I'm guilty saying things like ept, gruntled...

My mom has her own language. This is not an exaggeration: "Two real estate Mongols came into the restaurant the other day. They both ordered the Chicken Marsalis... are you okay??"

Kate Christie

Love this post and the comments. I myself am guilty of frequent eggcorns and mostly silent though occasional out-loud mispronunciations. A recent eggcorn that was fortunately corrected by my editor before the book went to press (whew!) was "kitten caboodle." Oops...

Joe Riddle

If I let my spell checker do my work for me my co-worker's last name (Lockwood) would become Locoweed. And the word website would become Bette (as in Davis, I assume).


My favorite misread ever was when I was 5 or 6, reading through the lyrics to the Christmas carol, "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen."

I read "...to save us all from Santa's [instead of Satan's] power." It's a common enough transposition, but in my young mind it aroused some pretty harsh suspicions about the guy in the red suit!


My own eggcorn is that for years I thought "deep-seated" was "deep-seeded"—which makes at least as much if not more sense.

As for misreading words, I have a college friend who will testify to me not only pronouncing "awry" as "AWE-ry" but also the name of playwright David Mamet as "da-VEED ma-MAY" (in the great French tradition). This phenomenon definitely needs a name.

George Grenley

@patricia: I used to read about a light party snack known as a whores-dee-OH-vreez for many years before finally realizing they were or-derves.

I'd write the correct term, but it's too hard to spell. ;-)

Eggcorns were once common, when classified ads were taken over the phone. Sadly, Craigslist has pretty much killed this art form.


This headline has been legendary since pre-internet days, so might be genuine. The British 8th Army was attacking the German Afrika Korps in 1943 and doing rather well, prompting the headline:

"Eighth Army shove bottles up Germans"

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