Blog Excerpts

"Eggcorns" Signaled Out for a New Leash on Life

Online since 2005, the Eggcorn Database is a repository for non-standard reshapings of words and phrases that make sense in a new way, like writing the word acorn as eggcorn. There are currently 641 entries in the database, many of them contributed by Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer. Three of his recent entries are signal out (for single out), new leash on life (for new lease on life), and when all is set and done (for ...said and done).

You might think that eggcorns wouldn't crop up often in carefully edited prose, but many of the attestations given in these entries are from mainstream media sources. Behold:

signal out

  • Sure, there are some annoying past-bonus contract issues involved, and some of the individuals signaled out for retention may not be the right ones to get them. (Roy C. Smith,, Mar. 17, 2009)
  • While the president may hope for a short bankruptcy, it may not be that simple, especially with those creditors that Obama signaled out for not cooperating. (Jake Tapper et al., ABC News, Apr. 30, 2009)
  • We, the boys, were cruel to each other, a prerequisite for getting through the school day — either it was you who would get the leather strap or the petrified boy sitting next to you, and his being signaled out for the bout of perversity gave you a reprieve, if only a temporary one. (Padraig O'Malley, Boston Globe, May 27, 2009)
  • But in a parting political shot, he signaled out Republican leadership who he said have promised nothing but more “heated rhetoric.” (Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 30, 2010)
  • First it was the far right, which signaled out “Spongebob” for promoting a gay and global-warming agendas. (Daniel Frankel, Reuters/The Wrap, Sep. 11, 2011)
  • District Attorney Mike Ramsey refiled the child abuse counts only against Bram, who asserted she was being signaled out for breast-feeding toddler Thor and newborn Zeus while using pot. (Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, June 12, 2012)
  • He told the commission that 70% of campaign money is not reported at the provincial level – without signaling out any political party. (Michael Qaqish,, June 26, 2012)

new leash on life

  • But it could give the neocons a new leash on life, a way to invigorate their exhausted ideological engines. (Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, July 9, 2007)
  • 38-year-old, mother-of-three Lauren Bays revels in her new body and new leash on life after undergoing “mommy makeover” plastic surgery. (ABC News, July 8, 2011)
  • Baldur’s Gate is getting a new leash on life from Overhaul Games with an enhanced edition coming this summer to the iPad and OS X. (Technology Tell, Apr. 6, 2012)
  • Commercial radio seemed dead, but college radio gave it a new leash on life. (Radio Survivor, Apr. 23, 2012)
  • Now Pacquiao has a new leash on life and a new found spiritual guidance that has changed his life for the better. (The Sports Mistress, June 9, 2012)
  • This gesture reduced stress, allowed me to open my heart to greater spontaneity and a new leash on life. (Dream Builders Australia, June 22, 2012)

when/after all is set and done

  • As much as a foot of snow is possible after all is set and done. (The Denver Channel, Apr. 14, 2009)
  • When all was set and done, the missed shot didn’t mean anything but the impact from the opposing crowd was felt throughout every inch of Crisler Arena. (The Michigan Daily, Feb. 11, 2010)
  • There is no deal in place but when all is set and done, something expected to happen after the Academy Awards, Sorkin’s project is on track to get a pilot order by HBO. (Deadline Hollywood, Jan. 23, 2011)
  • After all is set and done, iOS 5 seems to work just fine, according to Mills. (TechLeash, Oct. 26, 2011)
  • By the time all is set and done over 2 feet is possible for the hardest hit areas. (News 4 Tucson, Dec. 13, 2011)
  • After all was set and done in Newark, NJ on Thursday night at the 2012 NBA Draft, most of the headlines left happy with their new hat, new boss and most of all, a soon-to-be-epic bank account. (SB Nation Atlanta, June 30, 2012)

To learn more about eggcorns, check out our interview with the linguist Geoffrey Pullum, who was responsible for coining the word eggcorn on the blog Language Log in 2003. The coinage proved so popular that eggcorn has now entered several major dictionaries, including the New Oxford American Dictionary.

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Comments from our users:

Wednesday July 18th 2012, 2:32 AM
Comment by: Rosina W. (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
Hi, my fellow word lovers.

My comment here doesn't relate to "eggcorns," per se (which I *love,* and to which I could contribute quite a few examples), but to the July 17, 2012 article about the word "intubate."

I'm referring here to the phrase "... prettily easily..." which I imagine many others have by now picked up on.

Please fix!

Thank you,
Rosina Wilson,
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Wednesday July 18th 2012, 3:55 AM
Comment by: Robert B. (Marietta, GA)
How about "escape goat" instead of "scapegoat"?
Wednesday July 18th 2012, 9:49 AM
Comment by: Linda V.
I like the one a classmate years ago used; "fingered it out" for "figured it out".
Wednesday July 18th 2012, 1:04 PM
Comment by: Ben Zimmer (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus Contributor
Robert B.: As it happens, Merrill Perlman wrote about the " escape goat" eggcorn for us in 2010. And I've also written about another variant used by Bob Dylan: " scrapegoat."

Rosina: Thanks for catching that -- it's now fixed!
Wednesday July 18th 2012, 9:10 PM
Comment by: Kate H.
My new favorite is "paper view". Ironically, our cable TV station offers it.
Thursday July 19th 2012, 2:57 PM
Comment by: Wendy C.
Comment from Wendy (Toronto, Canada)

From a high school student's health class essay forty years ago on the subject of on venereal diseases:

"There can be terrible problems if you catch the very serious diseases called Syllabus and Gondolero".

Hmmm. Those diseases sound rather like characters from a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta!

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