This Will Never Pass Mustard

Over the course of a long meeting, I sat across from a man who kept repeating a favourite phrase that had me wincing with embarrassment for him.

The phrase was: this is really a catch two situation.

There was a part of me that felt bad for him and wondered if I should take him to one side, but that urge had to wrestle with the fact that I enjoyed hearing him make a fool of himself.  

Some years later, I went through this dilemma again when a much nicer colleague often said ‘supposably’ instead of supposedly.  I know she would have coped with a private and tactful correction, but I still didn’t say anything.  

Similarly, a colleague returned from a trip to Dallas, and said he’d enjoyed seeing the famous book suppository. 

Suzie Dent, the UK lexicographer, tweeted out that these gaffes, or eggcorns, are the idiomatic equivalent of misheard song lyrics.

I have been trading eggcorns with friends, and it seems I am not the only one who winces, says nothing, and then fears that I might be dropping similarly awful clangers.

Aside from this will never pass mustard, here are some of the cringe-worthy favourites we have exchanged:

I don’t wish to cast nasturtiums

For all intensive purposes

We cannot turn a blind ear to that problem

We need to nip this in the butt

It’s a vicious circle

Let’s keep our ears peeled

We’re internally grateful

The chickens are coming home to roast

This will be the death nail for the project

We apologise for the incontinence


We’re just rearranging the deck of cards on the Titanic

I’d love to hear any other eggcorns that blog followers have heard.  

Perhaps there are chickens out there who will happily come home to be roasted, but if you ever hear me talking about enjoying a book suppository, please feel free to correct me.  

7 thoughts on “This Will Never Pass Mustard”

  1. I use some of the above as tongue in cheek word play on cliches! These maybe deliberate … mine usually are.

  2. Terence Sheppard

    One eggcorn that irritates me is “Off his/her own back” which people use to acknowledge individual achievement. What they really mean to say is “Off his/her own bat” which is a cricketing expression used when a batter makes a large individual score.

  3. David Rosenthal

    I always thought the phrase was “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” which essentially means it is good if it tastes good.
    Now however, according to Albo and other famous people, “The proof is in the pudding”. Perhaps it’s like those silver coins grandma used to put in the Christmas version?

  4. Cheryl Walmsley

    Indeed, I have a friend who deliberately says, “hmmmm, that sounds omnibus!” And another colleague would use, “it’s not rocket surgery!”

Comments are closed.