Have you ever heard someone say “expresso” when they meant “espresso”? Or “Old Timer’s Disease” when they meant “Alzheimer’s disease”?
There is actually a name for mispronounced phrases like these. Those of you who watch Trailer Park Boys may know them as “Rickyisms” but they’re actually called “eggcorns” (named by a researcher who once heard someone mispronounce the word “acorn” as “eggcorn”). It describes the substitution of words in a phrase for words that sound similar and may even seem logical within the context of the phrase.
Although most people will still know what you mean when you mispronounce a phrase like this, it may lead them to make assumptions about your intelligence. Using a phrase incorrectly is kind of like walking into a room with food on your face. It’s possible no one will tell you that you look silly, but everyone will see it.
Obviously, this is not the kind of mistake you want to make when texting a woman or when speaking with her in person. When it comes to first impressions, It doesn’t matter if you’re actually well-educated and intelligent, if you walk into the room with “food on your face,” that’s what she’ll see.
Check out these 13 commonly confused phrases to make sure you’re not spoiling your texts and conversations with nasty eggcorns.
1. WRONG: for all intensive purposes
RIGHT: for all intents and purposes
This phrase originates from early legal speak. The original phrase as used in English law circa 1500s is “to all intents, constructions and purposes.”
2. WRONG: pre-Madonna
RIGHT: prima donna
Although some may argue that the Material Girl is a great example of a prima donna, she has nothing to do with this phrase. It is an Italian phrase that refers to the female lead in an opera or play and is used to refer to someone who considers themselves more important than others.
3. WRONG: nip it in the butt
RIGHT: nip it in the bud
There’s an easy way to remember this one: imagine a flower starting to sprout. You’re nipping (pinching or squeezing) the bud before it has a chance to grow.
4. WRONG: on accident
RIGHT: by accident
You can do something “on purpose”, but you can’t do something “on accident”. Just one of the many exceptions of the English language.
5. WRONG: statue of limitations
RIGHT: statute of limitations
There is no sculpture outside of court houses called the “Statue of Limitations.” “Statute” is just another word for “law”.
6. WRONG: Old timer’s disease
RIGHT: Alzheimer’s disease
This is a prime example of an eggcorn because it seems to make so much sense! However, it is simply a mispronunciation of “Alzheimer’s”.
7. WRONG: expresso
This one is pretty bad. I’ve even seen this mistake printed on signs in cafes. It doesn’t matter how fast your barista makes your coffee, it’s not an “expresso”.
8. WRONG: sneak peak
RIGHT: sneak peek
This is one that will only come up in written communication, but make sure you’re writing to her about catching a sneaky glimpse of something rather than a secret mountain-top that imposes itself on people unexpectedly.
9. WRONG: deep-seeded
This is another one that seems so logical, but just isn’t right.
10. WRONG: piece of mind
RIGHT: peace of mind
Unless you plan on gifting her an actual chunk of your brain to ease her worries, make sure to write “peace” of mind,
11. WRONG: wet your appetite
RIGHT: whet your appetite
“Whet” means to stimulate or awaken, hence its use in “whet your appetite.” However, just to complicate things, you do “wet” your whistle.
12. WRONG: peaked my interest
RIGHT: piqued my interest
“Pique” is another stimulation word, as in interest or curiousity. Again, mountain-tops have no place in this phrase.
13. WRONG: baited breath
RIGHT: bated breath
“Bated’ is an adjective that means “in suspense”. The word isn’t used much these days, hence the common mis-use of “baited” in this phrase.