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.