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  • Growth sprout.

  • Biting my time.

  • Duck tape.

  • Two peas in a pond.

  • Escape goat.

  • You know that mortifying moment when you use a common phrase in front of everyone, only to find out you've been saying it wrong for years?

  • Well, the good news is you can stop that shame spiral in its tracks, because according to the nice folks at the Oxford English Dictionary, we've all done it.

  • Mishearing popular idioms, metaphors and sayings is much more common than you'd think and actually if enough people make the same mistake it can come to take root in our collective consciousness.

  • Sometimes even replacing the original phrasing entirely.

  • For example, if someone were wildly mistaken, would you say they had another thing coming or another think coming?

  • Believe it or not, according to Oxford's language monitoring databases the original phrase was another think coming, which to lots of you probably sounds all kinds of wrong.

  • If someone strips down to their birthday suit, would you say they were butt naked or buck naked?

  • While buck naked is the earlier form, nobody would bat an eyelidor, to misuse a common phrase, an eyelashif you were to say 'butt naked'.

  • These are the sort of changes that keep lexicographers busy updating their dictionaries so that they reflect how language is really being used by people, rather than instruct on how language should be used.

  • So tell that to the next pedant who tries to correct you.

  • In fact, many common turns of phrase have had fascinating journeys evolving into the popular sayings we all know and love today.

  • To curry favor, meaning to ingratiate yourself with someone, has nothing to do with buttering them up by buying them a vindaloo.

  • Its original form was actually to curry Favel, which will make absolutely no sense to you unless you've brushed up on your medieval French literature.

  • Favel, or Fauvel, was the name of a horse in an early 14th Century poem who was renowned for his cunning and duplicity.

  • To curry Favel meant to groom him with a special comb, still called a currycomb today.

  • Favel was commonly misheard as favour and the rest, as they say, is history.

  • Basically the term "to curry favour" has lived such a rich life it would probably have a much better Tinder bio than you.

  • Social media in general has proved the perfect place to mercilessly take the mickey out of some of the more amusing mishearings.

  • Linguist Geoffrey Pullum coined the term eggcorn to describe these idiosyncratic substitutions after a woman famously said "eggcorn" when she meant "acorn."

  • This name stuck, and has since spawned many a listicle of people's favourite examples, from the fairly logical damp squid for damp squib - squib being now a little-known word for a firework - to the cringeworthy all intensive purposes for all intents and purposes.

  • While eggcorns can be great fun, nothing brings people together like a misheard line or lyric.

  • Since the 1950s these have been known as mondegreens after American writer Sylvia Wright described mishearing a line from a poem "Laid him on the green" as "Lady Mondegreen."

  • Even Taylor Swift isn't immune to a mondegreen, with listeners widely hearing, "Long list of ex-lovers" in "Blank Space" as, "Lonely Starbucks lovers."

  • Another lol-worthy linguistic muddle up is the malaphor—a blend of malapropism the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, and metaphor.

  • A malaphor is a mixed up idiom.

  • For example, "it's not rocket surgery" or "it'll be a walk in the cake."

  • So next time you're at a party and you say "we'll burn that bridge when we get to it," "the cows came home to roost," or "every cloud has a silver spoon in its mouth," remember, you're not making a mistake, you're contributing to the evolution of the English language.

  • You're basically Shakespeare, and one of these days your mistake might just end up in the English dictionary.

  • What's your most embarrassing malaphor or eggcorn?

Growth sprout.

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B1 UK TOEIC curry phrase naked misheard damp

Have you been getting a phrase wrong all your life? | BBC Ideas

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    Fibby posted on 2020/05/22
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