Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Eggcorns -- the database

Sometimes eggcorns are hard to tell from malapropisms and mondegreens.

ghost » goat
Chiefly in: give up the goat
Classification: English - idiom-related
Spotted in the wild:
  • My old 14″ monitor went completely wrong and after a few years trusty service it finally gave up the goat, hence my need to find a new monitor for my little machine. ( review, Feb. 18, 2001)
  • The INS had finally given up the goat, and we were standby gauges only. (Naval Safety Center, Approach Magazine, 2004)
  • Canon mp760 gave up the goat. (TGForumz, Sep. 22, 2005)
  • One could argue that since he’s focused his practice largely on documentary filmmaking since the Eighties … he might as well have given up the goat for all the attention given to the form in theaters in the media until recently. (Reverse Shot Online, Winter 2006)
  • Luckily our old Toyota just got us through and then gave up the goat. (ABC Rural, SA Country Hour, Jan. 11, 2006)
  • Stay calm, collected, and don’t give up the goat. (Paul Davidson, Ten Rules for Making Rules, Apr. 16, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Jeanette Winterson (The Times, May 13, 2006)

Jeanette Winterson writes:

The other day my elderly country neighbour asked for a bit of help to get his new washing machine into the kitchen. That generation never use “it”, always, “he” or “she”, so I wasn’t surprised to hear the washing machine called “he”, but I was surprised by what followed: “My old washing machine, he’s given up the goat,” he said, in a broad Gloucestershire accent.
“The goat?” I replied. “Are you sure?” “Oh, yes,” said my neighbour, “ain’t you never heard that expression before, given up the goat?” “Well, not exactly . . . where does it come from?” “Ah well,” said my neighbour, “in the old days, when folks didn’t have much, and mainly worked the land, a man would set store by his animals, especially his goat, and when he come to die, he would bequeath that goat to his heirs, and that is why we say, ‘he’s given up the goat’.”
I am thrilled with this and from now on there will be no more ghosts, only goats.
There are hundreds more at the Eggcorn Database. (Thanks to the Internet Ronin.)

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