The heel broke off a woman’s shoe in a parking lot. She later reported, “I ripped the bottom from the other shoe, no easy feet.” I’ll bet she had easier feet once she finished than if she had tried to walk on one good shoe and one bad one. Still, ripping off the good heel must have been a difficult feat.
Welcome back to the world of misused pears pairs of words: mistakes with homonyms, or the related “eggcorn,” where people try to write what they have misheard.
Misused pears and eggcorns from the world of politics
I didn’t see the article where an author mangled a cliché by calling the other side “wolves in the manger,” but I did notice a letter to the editor claiming the accusation is “beyond the pail.” Another writer complained that “humans have mastered the art of hauling abuse at the masses.”
Certainly, if people are going to hurl abuse, they ought to try to get it all in the pail so the rest of us can dispose of it properly. By the way, in the late Middle Ages, the English the Pale meant the part of Ireland under the direct royal control. Anything beyond the Pale was, therefore, out of control. Uncapitalized, beyond the pale has come to mean anything beyond the limits of law or decency.
Such has become our political discourse. Perhaps some would say “they don’t mix words.” But don’t we mix words every time we form a sentence?
Shakespeare introduced the phrase “mince words.” That’s the proper phrase, but on the surface, it doesn’t make any more sense. Who tries to communicate anything by chopping words into little, tiny pieces?
Actually, in his day, “mince” had the meaning of carefully choosing gentle words. Nowadays, the phrase has the connotation of not being completely honest. Someone who hurls abuse doesn’t mince words in the Shakespearean sense but might be expressing his honest feelings in the process.
Before the death of Queen Elizabeth, someone provided a twofer, identifying Charles as “first inline to the thrown.” Now, of course, it’s William who is first in line to the throne.
Someone wrote of wanting “to put a wind turban” on a hill on his property. I have read about several alternatives to the standard wind turbine, but not that one. I’m sure it’s a lot quieter!
Are you planning to sell or donate any electronic equipment? “Don’t forget to wipe clean any data if you pass on phones, computers, or gaming consuls.” A consul is a diplomat serving in a foreign country. Gaming consuls might be a big problem unless they leave the consoles at home.
According to the caption of an online wedding album, “Not all weddings are conventional, and this groom certainly chose to show his goofy and hairier side, dawning the gorilla mask in his official pre-wedding shoots.” You know—as in dawn we now our gay apparel, fa la la,” except in print, it’s always “don we now.” “Don” used to mean put on, the opposite of “doff,” take off.
In the 1890s, traveling salesmen were known as drummers, so they would drum up business. Have they become guitarists or banjoists and I didn’t notice? I did notice someone who wrote, “They strum up support for their projects.”
In the book of Daniel, Daniel praised God after receiving an answer to prayer. One blogger noted, “This is a beautiful example for us after we partition the Lord for a need we may have.” Now, according to Christianity, God is a Trinity of three persons, but the early ecumenical councils determined he can’t be partitioned (divided). But praise is appropriate after receiving a favorable response to a petition.
Some howlers by professional writers
I noticed this headline in a newspaper article from the Associated Press: “A Peak Inside “Safe Injection Site.” So there is a promontory with a sharp or pointed end in a safe injection site? It doesn’t sound much like a needle, does it? Peak, peek, and pique all have the same pronunciation but very different meaning. Don’t newspapers and news agencies have proofreaders anymore to make sure the right word appears in print?
A writer’s group on Facebook had a discussion about what makes real science fiction. One commenter said that time travel might be the biggest “hurtle” for an author writing for an audience of people who want the science plausible. I guess eggcorns are a hurdle that can trip up anyone.