The word eggcorn was coined by the Language Log linguists and indicates odd spellings of words (like eggcorn for acorn), which mean that they can be interpreted differently. For a comprehensive history of the term, please click here.
According to Geoff Pullum, eggcorns could be dismissed "as signs of illiteracy and stupidity, but they are nothing of the sort. They are imaginative attempts at relating something heard to lexical material already known. One could say that people should look things up in dictionaries, but what should they look up? If you look up eggcorn you’ll find it isn’t there. Now what? And you can’t look up everything; sometimes you think you know what you just heard and you don’t need to look it up."
Well, that makes me feel a whole lot better about my "dull as a dishwasher". Chris Waigl has indicated in the comments on this site that she is investigating this expression, so I might have the pleasure to contribute to her eggcorn database. She has given the delightful name of poteaux roses (pot aux roses, from the expression découvrir le pot aux roses meaning "to find out what’s going on") to the French eggcorns she’s hoping to chase as well. I also highly recommend Chris’s blog Serendipity.

By | 2016-10-18T15:51:24+00:00 February 18th, 2005|Words|2 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Eve February 18, 2005 at 2:35 pm

    Hello Celine,
    I have a question which is off-topic. I am translating a document from English into Arabic, about bugeting (how to do a budget for an organisation). I encountered two words: administration and management. I am aware you problably don’t know Arabic, but do you have an idea what is the difference in meaning between them, especially that there is only one word to describe them in Arabic.
    thank you!

  2. céline March 3, 2005 at 8:32 am

    Hi Eve, as ever, without context, it’s difficult to help you…

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