Metatalktail Hour: Mrs. Malaprop, I resume? March 5, 2022 3:21 AM   Subscribe

For our new Metatalktail chat, please please me by telling stories of misunderstood / misused words or phrases: eggcorns, spoonerisms, malapropisms, mishearings, misunderstandings, mondegreens or any other humorously muddled Miss Peking — either your own or others you've personally encountered irl.

This discussion idea hilariously inspired by a recent twitter comment, “I once saw a resume that stated they were a “valid Victorian.”
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 3:21 AM (168 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

oops! Or just tell us how your gay is doing day is going, or whatever else (except you know what) that you want to talk about!
posted by taz (staff) at 3:28 AM on March 5


I have definitely told a boss that the work we were doing was tanGENITAL to our mission. This was only a week or so after I chided a coworker for being peNdantic. Where do I turn in my English degree?

Yes, this was two decades ago and I still think about it.
posted by kinsey at 4:23 AM on March 5 [9 favorites]


Just like a runny sack
Justlikearunnysaaaaack
Be my little baby
posted by emelenjr at 4:51 AM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Back when I lived in Sarajevo, I organized an outing to a brewery for my job.

I sent an email to hundreds of coworkers with an address of "Sranjevacka Street."

That's a typo, it's on "Franjevacka."

Franciscan Street, as I was told.

"Sranjevacka" means "sh*tty," and I experienced days of good-spirited, dry-witted prank calls from my Bosnian colleagues.

"I'm sorry, I need you to be more specific, most of the roads here are sranjevacka."
posted by champers at 5:28 AM on March 5 [30 favorites]


Finally someplace to share this! I used to work for a company that distributed products to local convenience stores. When I started, the CRM was full of customers who were FORMALLY named something else. Took me a bit, but they were eventually all fixed to FORMERLY.

Lost my unemployment claim. At the end of the phone call between me, Unemployment, and Form*er* Boss, Unemployment asked me how Boss and I relationship was generally. I was honest, cause, hey, what else could I lose? I said there was always some *underlying* tension. Boss response? "I don't think there was any underly... underly.. under*lining* tension"

Those are the the two that stick in my mind, but Former Boss was full of them!
posted by MuChao at 5:41 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Same boss also told me my [female] cat's name wasn't "very feminine". I wasn't out as enby yet, but still can't understand why a pet's name needed to be gendered....
posted by MuChao at 5:43 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


When I was 7 or 8 I heard some bigger kids at school explaining a childhood mystery, and when I got home I confronted my mother with my new knowledge: "Mom, I know there's no such thing as the tooth fairy." "Oh?" "Yes. It's not a fairy, it's a parrot." (I had misheard "parent.") My mother, nodding sagely, agreed: "Well, I guess you're big enough to know the truth now. It's the Tooth Parrot who puts money under your pillow." And from then on the dollar bill under my pillow was accompanied by a parrot figurine or card, as on my house the Tooth Parrot took care of things. This was the single best parenting moment my folks ever achieved: a moment of whim that worked out.
posted by miles per flower at 5:49 AM on March 5 [53 favorites]


My wife always says "we'll burn that bridge when we come to it" instead of "we'll cross". And she says it a lot. I think when she was young her parents said that jokingly and now it's too ingrained to switch to the usual phrase (not that she wants to switch).

It makes me wonder if she secretly desires to burn every bridge once she crosses so her enemies can't follow. Or if she's a secret pyromaniac and burns the bridges before she even crosses them. Either way I always imagine a conflagration straight out of a Michael Bay movie.
posted by Tehhund at 5:52 AM on March 5 [20 favorites]


Another: I moved the northeast US to the midwest for a bit in my 20s, and one of the small cultural surprises I found there was the sudden ubiquity of bratwurst. As a kid, I only encountered bratwurst in actual German restaurants or upscale butcher shops--but then in Michigan, a brat seemed to be the common noun default for "thing that comes in a bun"--at sporting events, at cookouts, etc. Anyway: during my first winter there I came down with a bad stomach bug, got horribly dehydrated, and had to go to an urgent care clinic. After treating my dehydration, the young doctor I saw prescribed rest and three days of "the brat diet." Me: "...The brat diet?" Doctor: "Yes, for three days. Brat and water, nothing else." Me: "Is... huh. Does it matter what kind of bun? Or should I not eat buns at all?" Doctor: "..." Me: "Or mustard? Is mustard OK?" Doctor (angry): "It's the brat diet! BRAT!" Me: "I've just never... it's surprising to me that they would be easy to digest. I'm not sure I feel like bratwurst for breakfast right now." Doctor (now yelling, exasperated): "BRAT, NOT BRAT! B, R, A, T! Banana! Rice! Applesauce! Toast! Why the hell would you eat a brat?!" Me: (enters field of public health, where I still work today)

I had, obviously, never heard of the BRAT diet. I still shudder at what might have happened if I hadn't cleared that up.
posted by miles per flower at 5:59 AM on March 5 [28 favorites]


As a little girl I was super invested in being seen as a GIRL.

An old family story is that one day my dad was teasing me by repeatedly calling me a boy. I lost my temper eventually and declared angrily:

"I am not a boy! I don't have a penis and I don't have any technicals either!"

Also, happy enchilada and I think I'm gonna drown.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:24 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


Also, if you like mangled metaphors https://www.reddit.com/r/Malaphors/ is pretty good for that. Go to https://www.reddit.com/r/Malaphors/top for the best ones of all time.
posted by Tehhund at 6:29 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


In junior high my best friend insisted at length that her grandpa told her "bowl" was another word for pimple. This always stuck with me as an unexplained puzzler, as I never heard it elsewhere. Decades later I met him for the first time, heard his deep rural Arkansas accent, and realized what he'd said was "boil." I don't think she ever put that together. I never told her.
posted by something something at 6:35 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


A co-worker once shared that she “was running around like a chicken without a neck.”

Another agreed with me that, “we should not open those worms.”
posted by Riverine at 6:40 AM on March 5 [13 favorites]


I was in my early twenties before I realized that people were saying:

"And frankly, I think it's a great idea to..."
instead of
"Anne Frankly, I think it's a good idea to..."

Because I knew from reading her diary when I was a child that Anne Frank was an honest girl, so it all kind of matched up in my head.
posted by kimberussell at 6:59 AM on March 5 [14 favorites]


A new burger place opened in town, and the menu listed some vegan options. The place is called "Dick Mondell's" but people often call it "Dick's." I went to a co-worker who's also a vegan and said "what do you know about Dick's?" Then hurriedly added "Burgers! Dick's Burgers!" Hand on my forehead, squinting, face flushed, I said "I am so sorry. They had to have done that on purpose." And she said that yes, they had; on the side of the bag it says "A bag of Dick's."

The burgers were okay. Not worth the embarrassment.

Same boss also told me my [female] cat's name wasn't "very feminine".

One of my co-workers had taken in a cat which some people in her apartment complex left behind. She told me the cat was female and her name was Molly, and the cat didn't get along with her and her partner's cats (they had three), so I adopted him. On my first visit to the vet, someone said "oh, he's so pretty!" and I said "she," at which point the other customer apologized. I was just like puzzled guy, thinking "I don't care. The cat doesn't care." Then the vet told me it's a male cat, which is actually pertinent to various health issues, and I renamed him "Ollie" since it sounded like "Molly."

Conclusion: people are weird about gender, including of pets. And apparently, in some ways, I am too. I could have just kept calling him Molly. He doesn't care, as long as there are treats after I call him.
posted by johnofjack at 7:06 AM on March 5 [5 favorites]


In the garden department of a big-box retail here (NZ) I've osculating sprinklers advertised.

And you would believe how many ways there are to misspell Belgian as in Belgum slice.

Thanks for posting taz
posted by unearthed at 7:27 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


A long time ago my Captain posted the ships accounts addressed to the not so nice owner, a Count, and then frantically tried to fish it out of the letter box because he feared a spelling mistake
posted by adamvasco at 7:29 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


We ot new lighting fixtures at work, with parabolic holders. or metabolic, whichever.
posted by theora55 at 7:31 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s a defibrillator, not a “de-fibulator.” It isn’t designed to remove leg bones.
posted by armeowda at 7:59 AM on March 5 [12 favorites]


There's a sign on a house in Wynberg that always causes me great pleasure. It says "Beware Viscous Dogs"

Another one:
When we were planning our wedding, my husband and I hired two story tellers to tell stories as part of the ceremony. They helped us plan how we would deliver our vows. Mr Zumbador-to-be said he didn't want to practice or prepare too much. He wanted his vows to be scatalogical.
The story tellers looked slightly surprised at this, but they took this in their stride and we moved on to the next topic.
When I asked him about it later, it turned out that he thought "scatalogical" meant "improvised" as in jazz scat singing.

I have a friend who mixes up English and Afrikaans sayings or translates them directly from one language to the other. For example, she would say that in order to do a difficult task, "you have to have hair on your teeth!"
Which I don't think is a thing English people say?

I sometimes do the same thing. For example, I don't think it's correct English to say "you've got the cat by its tail"? It's a direct translation of an Afrikaans saying that means you've misunderstood a situation. Sort of like "you've got the wrong end of the stick".

I also tend to pronounce the silent "b" in English words like "bombing" and "climbing" but that's a whole other topic.
posted by Zumbador at 9:21 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


Zumbador, that cat/tail thing is actually correct! I think in the U.S. we've mostly said, "You've got a tiger by the tail," but I'm not going to split genuses over it.
posted by cooker girl at 9:26 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


When my son was almost 5, he was the ring-bearer in my nephew's wedding. He was VERY excited and he would walk up to someone (friend, grocery store cashier, anyone) and say, "I'm gonna be a ring bear and I'm gonna wear a torpedo!" We never corrected him.
posted by cooker girl at 9:27 AM on March 5 [20 favorites]


Oh and about pet gender. If a dog or cat misbehaves, my father refers to it with male pronouns, and if it's being well behaved, it mysteriously becomes female. He's not aware he does this.

When I was about 17, we had a young dog called Nomsa. She was a pup and my parents delayed spaying her for some reason. Which led to some excitement when she reached puberty.
On a memorable occasion, my father mixed up my name (Masha) with the dog's and told some dinner party guests that "Masha likes to jump over the garden wall when she's on heat".
posted by Zumbador at 9:31 AM on March 5 [8 favorites]


We always have to triple check anything we send out lest we say "PUBIC LIBRARY" (ahem).

not_on_display and I text a lot and I'm often using speech-to-text because I'm not a speedy phone keyboardist. Often we'll end texts with XOXO which sometimes the speech-to-text would decide was the word EXPO, so we've decided that is our XO for now.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:45 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Zumbador: >I have a friend who mixes up English and Afrikaans sayings or translates them directly from one language to the other. For example, she would say that in order to do a difficult task, "you have to have hair on your teeth!" Which I don't think is a thing English people say?

It's certainly a thing Dutch people say! Here, having hair on ones teeth means being assertive, or even aggressive.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:48 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


Also here's a repost from 2013:

This one takes a bit of explaining, because it's in Dutch.

Our word for 'frost that happens during the night' is nachtvorst. 'Nacht' means night, 'vorst' means frost. With me so far?
Okay, but here's where it gets more complicated: 'vorst' also is another word for king, besides 'koning'.

So yeah. Somehow, I thought when the grownups were talking about the nachtvorst that was supposed to come soon, they were talking about someone who could be considered as regal and important as a king, dressed in velvet robes and wearing gold, and came around during the night.
So of course, being seven or so, I concluded that they were talking about Sinterklaas, which is what we commonly call Saint Nicholas, who is the origin of Santa Claus.

Every year in November, when my parents said that it might soon freeze overnight, I thought I'd be getting Sinterklaas presents soon, from the Night King.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:56 AM on March 5 [22 favorites]


Often we'll end texts with XOXO which sometimes the speech-to-text would decide was the word EXPO, so we've decided that is our XO for now.

We have had so many text typos happen that we also just tend to let them replace the real words now, my favourite being "pegfaps" for perhaps. It's just a better word.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:48 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


A scrap dealer posted some business cards in various places locally. They read: "We buy all furious and non-furious metals".
posted by pipeski at 10:49 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


Too-ticky that the Nachtvorst story is beautiful. Reminds me of one from my own childhood.
There's a hymn that ends with the words "ons vadere behoed" ("our fathers protect"). I always used to sing it as "my pa se rubber hoed" ("my father's rubber hat").
It never occurred to me that the words just didn't make any sense.
posted by Zumbador at 11:02 AM on March 5 [8 favorites]


Oh, sorry for all the comments but what the hell. Also a childhood misunderstanding. Before we went to the beach, my mother used to phone to get a wind update from a weather service.
She always said she was just phoning "vir die wis en die onwis" ( "for the knowing and the unknowing" it basically means "just in case we need to know"). I always thought that she was phoning two people called "Wis" (Know) and "Onwis" (Unknown).
I had a mental image of them too. Both men with big round faces for some reason.
posted by Zumbador at 11:11 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


I have definitely told a boss that the work we were doing was tanGENITAL to our mission. [...] Yes, this was two decades ago and I still think about it.

We had this TA for German, Jordan, whom everyone hated, the poor thing. He seemed uptight as compared to the more fun Buddy, who was always at Stammtisch singing and shouting and waving a stein around in a manner impressive to stupid teens. Anyway, one time Jordan said "genital case" instead of "genitive case." Nobody said anything but everybody heard and Jordan blushed so hard his ears turned nearly purple and I have remembered it to this day even though that was back in the 1980s. Maybe Jordan has forgotten about it by now. But I doubt it.

In junior high my best friend insisted at length that her grandpa told her "bowl" was another word for pimple.


My friend worked in a group home in rural Florida. This woman from Brooklyn became the director for a while. It's pretty much the law that when people come from up north you have to try to get them to eat boiled peanuts to see if they'll get freaked out and then you can laugh at them. Some member of the staff at the group home was running the boiled peanut script on the new director in their deepsouth accent when the director interrupted in her Brooklyn accent and said, "Bald peanuts?! I didn't know peanuts had hair!" Boiled = bold in rural Florida; bald = bold in Brooklyn. So it led to greater than usual hilarity.

My baby brother used to say "flaucet" for "faucet." I still sometimes say flaucet, I find it so charming.

My friend says "what to speak of" instead of "not to speak of." I think he must have just heard it wrong. I come up with reasons to say "not to speak of" in conversations with him, but he doesn't hear it, or he's refraining politely from correcting my malapropism.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:06 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


Yesterday I went to the bougie grocery store and looked at the prewrapped fish in the cold case and saw “WAHT WAHT FILLET” next to the salmon and cod and prawns. Not finding anything I really wanted I looked at the fish counter’s offerings and the fishmonger popped up and asked if he could help or if I had any questions. So I, confidently, asked “actually, I’m just curious, you have something called waht waht in the cold case??” And he was just baffled, and then I was baffled, and then he came around from the other side of the counter, and I’d repeated it like three times and SPELLED it, and then I actually went and picked up the fish from the case and held it close and said “here it is, mahi-mahi… oh. I need new glasses.”

I’m sure it was merely a blip on this guy’s radar but I’m pretty sure it’s the kind of interaction I’ll be thinking of when I’m trying to fall asleep for the next twenty years.
posted by Mizu at 12:42 PM on March 5 [21 favorites]


My ex-husband's crochety grandfather was giving us a list of things to pick up for him at the grocery store. "Get me some roastaneers" he said. I was confused, had no idea what that was. "ROAST-aneers" he shouted irritably. "ROASTANEERS! Oh, for chrissake... CORN!" What he was saying was roasting ears, which was only ever called corn on the cob where I grew up.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:46 PM on March 5 [11 favorites]


"I am not a boy! I don't have a penis and I don't have any technicals either!"

One of my kids got all excited to tell me that they'd just learned that octopuses have eight testicles.
posted by Well I never at 1:46 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]


My youngest kid and his friends used to joke about being "kicked in the peanuts".
posted by pipeski at 2:07 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


an emulsifier is a home appliance used to mist benie sauce throughout the house.
posted by clavdivs at 2:11 PM on March 5


I once told my Greek father-in-law (very soon after meeting for the first time, no less) that I loved all the beautiful testicles when I was trying to say "poppies." (We were overlooking a hillside filled with poppies.) I've never seen him laugh so hard.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:23 PM on March 5 [12 favorites]


Recently I was chatting with a patient, a lady in her 70s. She was being seen for bladder infections, but was also telling me about her shoulder. She'd had an injury in a fall, did physical therapy for a while, the shoulder was doing much better now. She said, "A year ago I couldn't pee on a potato!"

My mind raced through old wives' tales for UTI cures, trying to think of any that involved potatoes. Coming up blank, I said, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

She said, "A year ago I couldn't peel a potato. My shoulder is that much better."

I told her what I thought she had said, we both had a good laugh!
posted by dorey_oh at 2:25 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]


When I was a young kid, I thought the word was "concreek" instead of "concrete." I was convinced of this because there was an urban creek in my neighborhood with concrete weirs, and for some reason this was the primary exemplar of the material in my mind. Thus, concreek, because it could be found in the creek.

When I was even younger, my mother used to have me take a children's multivitamin every day, which were chewable and came shaped like characters from The Flintstones. Because taking my vitamin involved chewing up these little cartoon people, I was convinced the word was "bite-a-men" instead of "vitamin". (In my regional accent, "men" is pronounced as "min", making the sound resemblance even stronger.)
posted by biogeo at 3:10 PM on March 5 [14 favorites]


I learned here a few weeks ago that cigarettes that are sold individually are "squares" rather than "spares." I've been hearing it wrong since I was a kid. I still think spares makes more sense - they're extras - while taking them out of a pack makes them far less square. But, I believe everyone that I'm wrong.

It wasn't until adulthood that I learned that a "horse de uvra" wasn't just a fancy, literary word for an "orderve," which was something I'd heard people say.
posted by eotvos at 3:24 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


I enjoy saying "half of one, six dozen of the other," although my enjoyment is often diminished by people thinking I think that's the expression. Actually this is kind of a theme in my life. Maybe my delivery is too deadpan.

mizu, my friend once bumbled into asking a fishmonger for a codpiece.

johnofjack, I once had an Ollie who turned out to be a Mollie.
posted by HotToddy at 3:26 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Also, I'd never heard the term eggcorn before. I like it.
posted by eotvos at 3:27 PM on March 5


A friend of mine back in college often used words that sounded similar to the words he meant, but weren't actually the words he wanted. You pretty much always knew what he was going for so it was usually no big deal.

One time we were at the store together. He decided he needed to get some Carmex (lip balm), but couldn't find it.

We found an employee stocking shelves, a young woman.

He said hello, she asked if she could help him, and he said "Do you know where your cervix is?"

Her eyes went really wide, then she looked really puzzled. I said "Carmex. He's looking for Carmex." She was visibly relieved, and directed us to the correct aisle.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 5:01 PM on March 5 [12 favorites]


Re: Mondegreens:

I have loved the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey” since it came out when I was little. All my life, I thought the lyric was

The paint-by-number morning sky looks so phony

Apparently it’s the faint light of the morning sky that looks phony. I only found that out last year.

Ask me also about The Bee Gees getting hired in Milwaukee (“Night Fever,” apparently actually
higher in my walkin’) and Joni Mitchell’s bittersweet tale of the gay pair of guys (who) put up a parking lot.
posted by armeowda at 5:34 PM on March 5 [12 favorites]


Oh, speaking of potatoes: the Stones’ “She’s So Cold” has the line I’m a bleeding volcaaaaaano.

Carb-lover that I am, I thought it was I’m gonna eat a potaaaaaaato on first listen.

Now I’m doomed to hear I’m gonna pee on a potato, so thanks for that, dorey_oh.
posted by armeowda at 5:42 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


More of a translation issue, but.

I used to work as the sole English person in an ad agency where everyone else was first-language French -- some quite competent in English, but I was the sole Anglo. One of our clients handled a licensed property which featured characters owned by Warner Bros., and like you do, our work involved making material (often point-of-sale store materials, like shelf talkers or special packaging) that put these licensed characters in situations or outfits -- wearing hockey gear during the Stanley Cup finals, say. Which had to be approved by the clients, but also ultimately by the licensing bodies.

We're in a internal meeting one day and I'm house-pitching one kind of out there idea, and everyone likes it, and then somebody says "yes, but it will have to be approved by Warner Bross." Pronounced like that. I agree, and then add "...but just so you know, it's Warner Brothers."

"What?"

"Bros. is short for 'brothers'. When you say it out loud, you say 'brothers,' like when you see 'Mr.' you say "mister.'"

And I realize that my co-workers have only ever seen, devoid of context, that these properties are owned by 'Warner Bros.', and nobody knows that this is originally two brothers with the last name 'Warner', not Warner, the only child of, like, Bob and Linda Bros.

Long pause, and then a mildly pained voice, like I am reaching back through time and shattering a long held memory.

"...wh-what about Super Mario Bros.?"
posted by Shepherd at 5:51 PM on March 5 [34 favorites]


Ask me also about The Bee Gees getting hired in Milwaukee

The complete line is:
I got hair in my mouth! I can't hide it in Milwaukee!
posted by Don Pepino at 5:53 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


Columnist Jon Carroll at the San Francisco Chronicle used to run occasional columns on mondegreens.

My own mondegreen only took me a few minutes before I realized my mistake, but I briefly thought a snack chip company was introducing a hip, edgy new "urban garlic butter" flavor.
posted by kristi at 5:56 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


A classic video of deliberately misinterpreted-as-English lyrics from the classic (German) band And One: Pants Off Men

Sniper rights! Emo bear rights!
posted by notoriety public at 6:11 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I notice homonym fails. Like the colleague who started out, "After much sole searching, I have decided..." and I still crack up at the mental image of them studying the bottoms of their bare feet seeking enlightenment.

Our family also says "we'll burn that bridge when we get to it," but it's totally intentional.
posted by evilmomlady at 6:14 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


The archive of misheard lyrics is at kissthisguy.com.

In the Monkees song Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow), I always heard "Sandra, long hair and big girl," which seemed a little odd. Listening to it recently, I finally realized it was "long hair and beat girl." However, pretty much every online set of lyrics for that song says "long hair and pigtails," which is not only clearly not what is being said, but doesn't make sense in terms of the song. If you know the song, if anyone would have pigtails, it would be Mary.

And here's my spoonerism: while teaching a class, I transposed the first letters of Huck Finn. Got a big laugh from the students.
posted by FencingGal at 6:25 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


I often tell my kids that I’m going to “shake a tower” instead of “take a shower”. Spoonerisms are fun!
posted by ashbury at 6:41 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


My evening plans got somewhat derailed by my left index's finger encounter with a knife. Several stitches & one tetanus shot later...

Anyway, as a Victorianist, I frequently have to warn students that shallots, raw or cooked, have no place in Tennyson.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:22 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Here’s a few:

Rewatching Terriers again, I misheard Hank singing “I love you for sentimental reasons” as “I love you for cinnamon and raisins” and how has that never shown up in a commercial?

My mom used the word “postapocryphal“ the other day when I’m pretty sure she meant postapocalyptic.

A former coworker consistently called the Mission of Mercy “Mission of Mercenary.”

A friend of mine used to try to (near as I can figure) say both “what have you” and “whatnot” in place of “whatever,” but for about five years, what came out instead, always and only, was “what have not.” I never could make myself correct her.

Another friend, when she first visited her Hungarian partner’s family, in trying to impress them, had asked him for a toast in Hungarian, and she mispronounced what was meant to be “to your health!” so it came out as “to your entire ass!”
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:38 PM on March 5 [12 favorites]


This happened to a friend who had just started a new job at a medical supply house. She got a call from someone ordering a certain type of prosthetic and wasn't sure she heard correctly. Her side of the conversation went "Let me just verify the spelling of that prosthetic. Is it b-o-l-o-g-n-a? Ooooohhh, below knee!"
posted by mpark at 8:01 PM on March 5 [16 favorites]


Four Dorsey Dan.
posted by Oyéah at 8:25 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I worked with a lawyer who was explaining a couple of options that he had in one of the cases he was working on. He summed it up with “I guess it’s six and a half in one, a dozen in the other.”

I responded “sounds like an easy choice: take the dozen.”

He walked away thinking that I was foolish for misunderstanding the saying.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:31 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


There's quite a few jazz tunes that musicians like to, er, "grace" with alternative titles - a few of the cleaner examples would be Girl with Emphysema (Girl from Ipanema), I've Thrown a Custard in Her Face (I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face), I'm Getting Sediment All Over You (I'm Getting Sentimental Over You), Days of Wine and Cirrhosis (Days of Wine and Roses), ...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:32 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


The leaves of brown
Came tumbling down, remember
In September
in the rain
posted by clavdivs at 8:37 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


My friend's sister always called cole slaw, cold slop.
posted by Oyéah at 9:02 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


I had a friend who liked to refer to lemon pepper (as in "lemon pepper chicken") as "lemming pecker", and four-cheese pizza as "floor cheese".
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:27 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


(clips from "Linguistic referents in food")
posted by clavdivs at 10:01 PM on March 5


man I hate it when linguistic referents get in my food
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:08 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


kristi: I briefly thought a snack chip company was introducing a hip, edgy new "urban garlic butter" flavor.

And what flavour were they introducing?

ashbury: I often tell my kids that I’m going to “shake a tower” instead of “take a shower”. Spoonerisms are fun!

They are! I told a neighbourhood kid that my bike had a flat tyre so I'd have to "fry a plant" (plantje bakken) and then when she looked very puzzled, I 'corrected' that to "fix a flat" (bandje plakken), to the amusement of all involved. I don't think her parents are much into word jokes, but she loves them.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:33 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


When I was old enough to read, but didn’t know a lot of words on sight, at the grocery store I asked my grandma “What is le-tuce (rhymes with puce)? Lettuce, it was lettuce.
My mother had an odd saying I still use “I’m not sure I understand all I know about that.”
And, when I learned “America the Beatiful” I *insisted* the words were “…land of thy children’s pride..” vs “pilgrim’s” - took me a year or more to figure out I was wrong.
posted by dbmcd at 12:45 AM on March 6


And what flavour were they introducing?

I'm guessing urban =herbal?

bandje plakken

I understand just enough Dutch for this to be very pleasing. Is the "bandje" a tire? Or a bandage? And is "plakken" stick in the glue down sense?
In Afrikaans I would understand this as either "stick a tire" or "stick a bandage" both of which make sense.
posted by Zumbador at 12:47 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I also collect sightings of ambiguous signs and labels. There's a Family Butcher in Durban. Seems a bit gruesome!
We used to buy Boere Paté (Paté made from Afrikaans Farmers!?!) and these days I often see Ass Muffins and Ass Quiche in the local corner shop. (Assorted)
posted by Zumbador at 12:52 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Is the "bandje" a tire? Or a bandage? And is "plakken" stick in the glue down sense?

Yes, 'band' or 'bandje' is a tire. 'Plakken' is to stick, as in to glue down, or also to be glued or stuck to something.

Afrikaans and Dutch are always such fun to compare. I've had friends from South Africa over, we could understand them just fine. They used a lot of words that are familiar but archaic, or the meaning differs ever so slightly. But taken in context, it's easy enough. You just have to switch to fuzzy listening.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:10 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


In the lyrics of I am the Walrus by the Beatles, there are two lines that read

...Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess
Boy, you've been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down


Which first line I always heard as

Avalokiteshvara, pornographic priestess...

Who I knew at the time as being the female aspect of Avalokiteshvara, Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy, whose tiny porcelain statuette was in a feature in the homes of my family's Nisei friends in my childhood.

Hence my understanding of the lyrics at the time. I still prefer it to Crabalocker.
posted by y2karl at 1:15 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Afrikaans and Dutch are always such fun to compare.

Yes! Some Dutch tourists thought Afrikaans for "surfer" was hilarious. "Branderplankryer". I think they found it to be a cartoonishly laborious description. First the brander, then the plank, then the ryer.
(fot the none Dutch speaking, it translates to wave board rider)

My siblings were all born in Holland (my parents lived in Amsterdam for a few years and I was born here in South Africa after they came home again ) and as a result there are many words that I think are Afrikaans but only find out are Dutch when I use them outside my family. Like "verlengsnoer" and "stekker", both words my mother enjoyed.
posted by Zumbador at 2:33 AM on March 6


This one in Italian is untranslatable and has to do with the highly inregular declination of the verb go (andare):

Vadiamo anche noi dove andando loro?

It comes from a middle school grammar text book and it is now family lexicon.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 6:18 AM on March 6


Back in the day when I was still a civil servant, one day I had to review a report drafted by the national Auditor's Office. At several instances the report mentioned an IT system called "genitale", which is the Dutch word for the adjective "genital". Reading through the report, it slowly dawned on me that this was a pretty weird name for an IT system. Also, it was a government IT system that I had never heard of, which also seemed strange. Eventually it turned out that "genitale" was what the Word spellchecker made of an IT system called "e-intake".
posted by rjs at 7:04 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


Making a reservation:

Me: I'd like a reservation for Thursday, 12:30 for 4 people.
Him: Friday?
Me: Thursday.
Him: That's Friday.
(Thinking: Thursday is never Friday, unless Friday is a holiday, but the holidays are all on Sunday this year, so...)
Me: Thursday is not Friday.
Him: December 30th is Friday.
Me: Oh! You think I'm asking for the thirtieth, no, I want Thursday, whatever day that is. The 29th, I guess, if Friday is the 30th.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:21 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


Bros. is short for 'brothers'. When you say it out loud, you say 'brothers

Even as a native English speaker I used to say "Super Mario Bross", but to be fair the band Bros at the time also used that pronunciation. Of course now I can't see it as anything other than multiple bro's, which makes Luigi and Mario seem more, well, bro-y than was presumably the intent.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:49 AM on March 6


My ex-husband John answered the phone one evening long ago, back before caller ID, and the conversation went like this:

Caller: May I speak to Amy please?
John: Who is this?
Caller: John.
John: Yeah, who's this?
Caller: John!
John (irritated): Yeah, this is John! Who are you?
Caller: John!!!
John: goddammit
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:54 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


In 9th grade I was introducing a guest speaker at school assembly and at the end of this introduction, I invited the very important person to kindly come up to the colostrum to say a few words.

My English teacher (who had prepped me for my little speech) was in tears of laughter later that day when she explained to me what I had said.

(The word I had been going for was rostrum.)
posted by MiraK at 8:03 AM on March 6


I misused the term "gang bang" once, when I was 12. I had babysat for the neighbors the night before and stayed over for the night because the parents were getting home very late. In the morning the dad took the kids and me to get donuts at the local diner to bring back. Adjacent to the diner was a big parking lot where motorcyclists in the hundreds would gather on Sunday mornings . As we pulled into the lot, I said, "Wow, looks like a big gang bang going on here!", having no idea what the term actually meant, but having heard it once or twice.

I still wonder to this day what the dad thought when I said that.
posted by sundrop at 8:24 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


When I was four years old I consistently mispronounced "comics" as "cominicks" and my mother still occasionally mentions how cute she thought that was.

And a general life update just because I'm rounding off processing a lot of input:

It's been a bit of a roller coaster week. I started the week with my boss finally formally announcing my promotion to the rest of the company; I am now the NY office manager for where I work.

But then I went to get a physical for the first time in 4 years; I'd not gone in sooner due to a hellish job first (in 2019) then a pandemic, and then breaking my knee. And speaking of that knee - some of the test results suggested that hey, sitting on my ass for the past year and a half and getting a little too used to takeout has done other things; my cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight were all a little high for the first time ever. My doctor prescribed me a home BP cuff and we're following up in a month.

So I spent a couple days trying to cope with that and getting a little overly caught-up in the situation - but then realized that hang on, I had my blood pressure checked at my last ortho visit only SIX MONTHS ago and it was fine. And I was already planning on starting to get a little more active with the warm weather anyway; I've started a 30-day gradual build-up-the-habit walking regimen (with the blessings of my physical therapist). And I realized one BIG factor may be that my office has started catering our lunches 3 times a week, and I've always been going for the big decadent luxurious things, so maybe this doesn't require a total overhaul of my culinary life so much as it calls for minor things like "yo, just eat more salads and go for the 2% milk instead of the whole milk".

And then come Friday, I learned that my insurance is cutting me off from coverage of physical therapy. I've come a long way, but I still don't have quite enough strength to run normally, so there's still some work to be done. However - when I reached out to my physical therapist, we discussed maybe coming up with an at-home DIY approach to take things from here - and honestly, that may just be where I'm at. I've recently been wondering exactly how much longer I need to do physical therapy anyway, and maybe this is a sign that...I have to take things on my own from now on. And actually, the same place I found that walking challenge also has some specific knee-rehab exercises as well, so I may show my therapist those and see if we can come up with a more DIY approach. I may also suck it up and join a gym for access to the equipment - a month at the gym would cost less than what I've been spending per month in PT copays.

So....it's been a bit of a whirlwind from "yay I have a promotion" to "eek my health is in danger" to "woe is me I have to restrict my diet" to "wait no I don't all that much after all" to "oh crap my knee" to "oh wait maybe I just do something else" all in the space of five days and I'm a little punch-drunk.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:27 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


Oh, and my blood pressure this morning was totally fine too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s a defibrillator, not a “de-fibulator.” It isn’t designed to remove leg bones.
posted by armeowda


Not with that attitude.
posted by Splunge at 9:06 AM on March 6 [14 favorites]


I was very confused when the movie "Death Becomes Her" came out and was described as a "black comedy", because those people were very clearly white.
posted by wanderingmind at 10:23 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Zumbador: There's a Family Butcher in Durban.

A friend showed me a picture of a Slagerij (butcher), where the font used caused the 'S' to look like a 'P', turning the shop into a Plagerij (teaser-y).

BTW, our car navigation gives its suggestions in Afrikaans. It's so sunny.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:21 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I heard on a radio news broadcast that "fires raging near Los Angeles were mostly in uninhibited areas". Saw an ad on Craigslist for CHRISTMAS REEFS.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:49 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


My friend wants to date someone who will put her on a pedal stool.
posted by xo at 12:29 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


I worked in a steel mill during summers in university and used to read with delight a regular newsletter posted by my assistant foreman, who administered a mutual fund that people could contribute to every pay and then get back their investments when they retired or otherwise left. As part of his responsibilities, he had to post a quarterly update on how the fund was doing.

He expressed himself reasonably well (with the aid of spellcheck) despite his formal education having stopped at about age 14. My favourite line: his cautioning us that "the coming economic tough times will surely test our metal."

In many situations, merely a blunder. In a steel mill, sheer genius.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:54 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


The archive of misheard lyrics is at kissthisguy.com.

Many many years ago, pre-Interwebs, I heard an aspiring author on a fairly hip radio call-in show soliciting listener contributions for his upcoming book on misheard lyrics (the timing suggests it was likely Gavin Edwards writing "'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy").

Anyway, I suspect that the one call I remember was never used because it was far too specific. It was from a woman who introduced herself as Linda Yee (sp?) who was calling because the first several times she heard Steely Dan ask her "Are you really Linda Yee?" it freaked her out a bit. Perhaps understandably so.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:01 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]


Oh no, oh no, I just remembered a fave, "The girl with colitis goes by."
posted by Oyéah at 1:38 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


My lovely Chinese brush painting teacher explaining a particular type of brush stroke to the class:"They are like the English language, where things are joined by proposition and conjecture." So brilliant.
posted by effluvia at 1:58 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


A favorite misspoken request of a radio station in Pittsburgh, enough that sometimes djs would announce the song this way, was "Learn to Speak French," by Red Rider.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:05 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


proposition and conjecture

The long-lost Jane Austen novel
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:41 PM on March 6 [9 favorites]


One of my kids got all excited to tell me that they'd just learned that octopuses have eight testicles.

My maternal grandmother was a maestra of the malapropism, and this was one of her best. She was a tiny lady with a very piercing Cockney voice, and quite deaf, so everyone in the vicinity got to hear whatever she was mangling that day. Which made it particularly fun when she informed my poor, very shy and reserved grandad over tea and cake at a cafe that she'd been watching a documentary about sea life and discovered that octopuses had "eight testicles, Jim! Imagine that!" My family still uses a quietly anguished "shuttup, Kath!" in my grandad's Lancashire accent as a shorthand for stop talking now.

Also, my younger sister thought for years that the Beach Boys song California Dreaming was about my mom. " All the Lisa Brown, Lisa Brown..." We still sing it that way.
posted by BlueNorther at 2:57 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


thought for years that the Beach Boys song California Dreaming

My young-self-mishearing memory is: Every time you go away.. you take a piece of meat... with you..

(you know.. in your pocket? in case you get hungry? makes sense to me)
posted by curious nu at 3:38 PM on March 6 [8 favorites]


This is a daily occurrence for me, because most of the stuff I copyedit is filled with these types of mistakes. Sometimes I can figure things out quickly, but at times, I'm completely stumped about what word or phrase the authors believe they are using.

My favorite from my own life was a friend in junior high school who was telling me about her sister. who'd be spending a few weeks during the summer working at a moron camp. I was just horrified--it was the '70s, so sadly the r word was still in constant use, but even then, I was like, "M! You can't call people that!" and she was super confused and said, "But it's a camp for moron kids!" I insisted, again, that "you just cannot call kids that. It's terrible." "NO!" she yelled at me. "A camp for morons," she said slowly, vehemently, like I was one too. Finally I just threw my hands up and said, "I don't even know what to tell you that you'd think it's okay to call a bunch of kids that name." Her anger was almost incandescent when she shouted "The religion! Morons!" and I was like "Oh my god, M, that's Mormons."

My ex had a roomie for a while who was an execrable person otherwise, but I'll be forever grateful to him for his often hilarious word conflations and malapropisms. One day he was going outside in the perpetual Seattle gray drizzle, and he said, without any idea he was saying it, "Ugh, it's drizmal out." I still use it to this day.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:42 PM on March 6 [15 favorites]


I just remembered another thing:
Somebody who used to date a friend of mine thought that being "up in arms" meant giving up. The gesture she used to explain her reasoning made it clear that she had somehow conflated it with throwing up your hands in defeat/disgust/etc.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:50 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


BlueNorther, I had a friend whose grandma was also brilliant in this way. The ones I remember are "Rolling Rose" for a Rolls Royce, and "Bastards and Rabbits" for Baskin-Robbins.

Mondegreens: My husband always sings, "I wanna rock and roll all niiiight, and part of every day," and I'm not sure if it's because he first understood it this way, or he picked it up as a joke. Our lovely friend thought that the lyrics to Sex and Candy included "Who's that casting Beefeater stares in my direction?" (Actual lyric: Who's that casting devious stares in my direction?")

Now, relatedly, I have a Very Important Question for you all. What kind of car does Mary Moon drive? Because all my life I thought it was one thing, but looking up the lyrics recently, it turns out it's something else. Apparently. And I'm shook.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:51 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


When my daughter was young, she called Snoopy's bird friend Windsock. After a preschool trip to the fire station, the next time the big rescue rig went by she announced, "It's the rescue squash!" We still call it that.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 4:22 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


The king of all misheard lyrics has to be Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter, where apparently Eddie Vedder isn't really sure of what the actual lyrics are.
posted by signal at 4:48 PM on March 6


Maybe it was a wind up car, that.doesn't get her very far.
posted by Oyéah at 5:07 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


When I first heard In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita I heard it as a slightly muddy rendition of 'In the Bhagavad Gita', and my girlfriend heard 'In the Garden of Eden', and she was right:
According to drummer Ron Bushy, organist-vocalist Doug Ingle wrote the song one evening while drinking an entire gallon of Red Mountain wine. When the inebriated Ingle then played the song for Bushy, who wrote down the lyrics for him, he was slurring his words so badly that what was supposed to be "in the Garden of Eden" was interpreted by Bushy as "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".[11][12]
but I didn’t find that out until years later.
posted by jamjam at 5:24 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


what was supposed to be "in the Garden of Eden" was interpreted ... as "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"

Remember when we used to make out to this hymn?
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:46 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Okay, a couple of my own Mondegreens:

In Bill Withers' song "Just The Two Of Us," there's a couple of background singers at one point that repeatedly sing "We can make it just the two of us...." and when I was wee I thought they were singing "we can make it, Dr. Stuart...."

Another background bit: in the Rolling Stones' song "Shattered," there's a repeated "Shadoobee, Shattered, shattered...." and when I was eight I thought they were singing "Shadoobee, shazbot, shazbot...." my father was so amused that he said that oh, absolutely that's what they were singing, just so I'd keep doing it.

Oh, and in my head AC/DC are singing about Dirty Deeds and the Dunder Chief.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:51 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


My former boss learned English after already speaking three or four other languages and would sometimes confuse words among them in ways that delighted us. My favorite, however, was a fortuitous mispronunciation of the sort indicating that a word's meaning was learned via printed text. A bunch of us were making an argument that he deemed irrelevant, but we weren't seeing it that way. Growing a little agitated, and very emphatic, he reiterated his position, insisting that "The point is mute!!"
posted by carmicha at 6:18 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


When I was a young kid (maybe 6), I was able to read the parts of the Mass. We went to St. Pius X. Up until that time, I thought the words in the Holy were 'Hosana in the Pius'. I was quite shocked to learn that it was 'Hosana in the highest'.

At 4, I was in Sunday school and we kids were down at Mass for something. The priest asked for someone to say the Our Father. At that point, I was a bold little thing. I got up there and said it correctly. My mom's heart nearly stopped when I volunteered because the whole time at home I had been saying, "Our Father up in Heaven. Hello what's Your name?"
posted by kathrynm at 6:26 PM on March 6 [16 favorites]


Just for you, EmpressCallipygos!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:39 PM on March 6


My wife and I wrote our own wedding vows. We included a line stating something to the effect that our feelings were more than mere infatuation. The officiant said "inflatulation".
posted by mollweide at 6:39 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


A few years ago, a fancy house near my parents' place put a sign on the wrought iron front fence. A few bits of the sign were blocked by the palings so it read, menacingly, CARNAGE HOUSE

Later I realized that if you could see all the letters it said Carriage House.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:44 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


My former boss learned English after already speaking three or four other languages and would sometimes confuse words among them in ways that delighted us.

A former boss of mine in the hostel biz was a francophone from Montreal. His English was pretty good, but he to this day speaks with a considerable Quebecois accent.

At one point he decided we'd get a coin-operated dispenser to sell toiletries -- razors and tampons and the like -- so created a list of what he thought should be in it. I noticed with bemusement that the last two items on the list were a toot brush and an air brush. Turns out he wrote with an accent as well.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:49 PM on March 6 [11 favorites]


The making reservations one above triggered a memory for me:
I was walking around resort area with my family and I popped into a restaurant and asked the hostess, "Can I make a reservation for four?" She slowly looked down at her watch, slowly looked back up at me, and with the most withering condescension imaginable, told me, "Well, it's five now."

Every fall, when it's time to drink spiced cider, I try offering my kids sliced spider. That has never caught on.

Last month, I realized my husband of 20 years believes the large citrus fruit you eat with a spoon? is a great fruit. Because it's big. He was ready to die on this hill. Grape fruit makes no sense.
posted by Knowyournuts at 7:38 PM on March 6 [8 favorites]


Long ago I got a job working for a scenic painting studio. The first job I was on was at the installation of painted panels for the MRI room at a children's hospital, which had been painted at the studio and then trucked to the hospital. Another painter and I were there to touch up the seams between panels. The crew doing the actual installation were subcontracted by the general contractor, not by our company.

My boss's name was Candice, but she went by Candy. We were pretty seriously underpaid, but it was kind of a passion job, and we got to do a lot of fun projects in a creative field (and we were young).

One day on lunch break the installer lead was munching on a giant Snickers bar. He said "So, do you guys work for Candy?"

I said "No, we work for peanuts."

He nearly snorted out a mouthful of Snickers.

I didn't realize I had made a joke - he was gritting on this massive candy bar, and it never occurred to me that he wouldn't know who we worked for. I thought he was going to give us candy bars.

I wish I could take credit for the joke, but it really was unintentional.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:34 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]


So many masons (and others) around here pronounce masonry as "mason-ary" that I started to worry that I was the one that was wrong.
posted by sepviva at 2:40 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


When my son was two, he went to a morning “pre-school” two days a week at a VERY southern Baptist church. About a month after it started, I was walking him back to his classroom when he started running and yelling about all the “dumb fucks” in his classroom.
“Come ON Mama, you’ve got to see the dumb fucks in my class! There are sooo many dumb fucks! Hurry Mama!”
Of course, his classroom was at the end of a 75 yard hallway and many a mother/grandmother glared at me as he went screaming down the hall. When we got to his classroom, his sweet teacher just shook her head and pointed to the dump trucks that he was so obsessed with. She never tried to correct him, just asked him to not be so loud. He’s 15 now and still loves to point out the dumb fucks.
posted by pearlybob at 3:55 AM on March 7 [11 favorites]


Kid number one, sliding down the bannister in our building, shouting "fickin fast!".

"Where did you learn that?"

"Deda said it!"

(His grandfather does not talk like that)

After some gentle questioning of both of them, it turns out that during a particularly frenetic throwing-things-around-game, he mentioned that things were going "thick and fast".
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:26 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I wish I could take credit for the joke, but it really was unintentional.

This one was not so much unintentional as perfectly served up, but I spent a shipping season as a longshoreman for a steelmaking concern, shipping steel rolls overseas. The steel rolls are each about the same diameter as a man is tall, and they would be placed by cranes into cargo ships, with a few hundred on each ship.

To keep them from coming loose and rolling around in high seas, they were secured in place with bracing that we on the docks created in the holds, with dozens of carefully cut and placed four-by-four segments of wood holding them snugly.

The chainsaw operator was the most valuable part of any shift: these guys cut and shaped the wood to perfectly brace the steel in place. As I recall, at least one of them was a literal artist, creating ice sculptures in the winter off-season.

The fellow I worked with, Donny by name, was a compact fellow who stood maybe five foot three or so. He was great with the saw, and like all the chainsaw operators, totally comfortable with it. Although we all wore hard hats and safety glasses, none of the chainsaw guys ever wore the safety garment they were assigned: a big chainmail apron that reached down from the wearer’s shoulders down past the elbows and knees.

The only time I ever saw anyone fitted out in the apron was one day shift when I saw Donny put one on. I asked him why he was wearing this (for the first time in my experience). He gave a dismissive wave — “Aah, big bosses coming by later and the foreman said I should put it on to keep them happy. I’m just covering my ass.”

I appraised the armour on his diminutive frame: “I’d say you’re covering everything but your ass.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:12 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


This was only a week or so after I chided a coworker for being peNdantic.

One of my patented moves is to mispronounce "pedantic" ...just to see who bites.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:12 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


PEDANTS RULE OK

Or more specifically, they exhibit characteristics that show a strong correlation with those found in positions of authority.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:18 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Conclusion: people are weird about gender, including of pets. And apparently, in some ways, I am too. I could have just kept calling him Molly. He doesn't care, as long as there are treats after I call him.

My grandmother adopted a cat and named it Gloria. Gloria was kind of tubby and my grandma was worried that she was pregnant, so they went to the vet and the vet said, Lady, this cat isn't pregnant, this is a neutered male.

Grandma was stuck on the name at that point, so he remained Gloria.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:20 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I was at Romanian new year's party and upon being introduced to the group, replied "Imi pare rau." You're supposed to say "Imi pare bine." That means "It makes me glad" (i.e. "pleased to meet you.") What I said was "It makes me sorry."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:25 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Favorite mondegreen ever: The line in Beck's "Lord Only Knows," where he says "Throwing your two-bit cares down the drain." I was driving along with someone, listening to the song, and I heard "Throwing your pubic hairs down the drain," and did a bit of a double-take.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:26 AM on March 7


Possibly favorite eggcorn ever: my spouse was trying to describe a wide spectrum of something and she said it was a "a full Penelope" (she meant "panoply").

I have forever after thought of the full Penelope as the female version of the full Monty.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:28 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


So many masons (and others) around here pronounce masonry as "mason-ary" that I started to worry that I was the one that was wrong.

A bunch of us made an anti-nuke movie when I was in high school, and I remember there being some very serious discussions about deliberately having some characters pronounce "nuclear" as "noo-kyoo-lar" and others pronounce it "noo-kleee-ar", as a character trait.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Oh gosh my boyfriend and I have started substituting words on purpose after a very satisfying late night word game and our pet names are ... unusual.

If someone can come up with a less infantilizing (our perception, not judging others) word for boyfriend/girlfriend that is somewhat less committed-sounding than partner and less wordy than "person I am dating/seeing/with/whatnot", by the way, I'd be thrilled.
posted by wellred at 9:07 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


If you are organising an event on a former Air Force technicians school/training ground, and call it Verboden Landschap (prohibited landscape, inspired by the razor-wire fencing still surrounding it), it's probably not the best idea to use individual letters to create the text on the entrance gate .

Click here for a translation.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:18 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


If someone can come up with a less infantilizing (our perception, not judging others) word for boyfriend/girlfriend that is somewhat less committed-sounding than partner and less wordy than "person I am dating/seeing/with/whatnot", by the way, I'd be thrilled.

Sweetheart.
posted by carmicha at 9:19 AM on March 7


I misheard the Monkees as singing about Your Antique Grizelda. I pictured a grizelda to be a very ornate highboy. (Why???)

I might have shared this one with y'all before: On my first visit in Thailand, I saw a sign outside a shop advertising Tattoos - While You Wait.
posted by jaruwaan at 9:28 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Whenever Handel's Messiah comes around on the classical music station, and gets to the part that goes "All we like sheep have gone astray," I hear the repetitive part as "Oh we like sheep, oh we like sheep...". Let your imagination take it from there. You will never unhear that.
posted by beagle at 9:34 AM on March 7


To the joy of all sign-altering vandals in South Africa, all you need to do to change Hoër Meisie Skool (Girls' High School) to Hoer Meisie Skool (Whore Girls' School) is to pluck the two little dots from the ë.
posted by Zumbador at 10:41 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


So many masons (and others) around here pronounce masonry as "mason-ary" that I started to worry that I was the one that was wrong.

I don't know everyone in Rhode Island, but everyone in Rhode Island that I know pronounces the word loam (meaning a kind of soil) as "loom," like the weaving machine.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:49 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


On the old cooking show Two Fat Ladies, Jennifer Paterson once asked why Americans pronounced "griddle" as "girdle." I have never heard an American say "girdle" in my life - unless referring to women's undergarments or quoting Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
posted by FencingGal at 10:58 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I think it's easy for at least some Americans to shorten/de-emphasize the 'i' enough that "griddle" and "girdle" sound very similar. On top of that, I've noticed that (at least on TV shows) many British people doing an American accent tend to pronounce 'r's with their tongues further back in their throat than Americans do (classic example: Hugo Weaving in the Matrix movies gritting out "MistR AndRson").

Now that I've typed that out I've forgotten exactly where I was going with it...but I still think there's a point in there somewhere.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:21 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I’ve had to explain the meaning of “circle jerk” to my boss, as she was using it to mean “stuck in a repeating cycle.” Lately she has been doing it again. Help me!
posted by Comet Bug at 11:23 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]

If someone can come up with a less infantilizing (our perception, not judging others) word for boyfriend/girlfriend that is somewhat less committed-sounding than partner and less wordy than "person I am dating/seeing/with/whatnot", by the way, I'd be thrilled.
I think the level of commitment associated with "partner" can vary quite a bit. But, beau and belle are slightly eccentric sounding ones (in English at least) that do the same thing. I don't know what the gender neutral version would be. "Date" is probably the boring but entirely understandable version.
posted by eotvos at 11:30 AM on March 7


I notice homonym fails. Like the colleague who started out, "After much sole searching, I have decided..." and I still crack up at the mental image of them studying the bottoms of their bare feet seeking enlightenment.

I feel like I've been seeing "sneak peak" everywhere lately. Like, nobody knows the difference between peek and peak (and the rhyming phrase really doesn't help).

Doesn't help that I started thinking of a sneak peak as a surprise climax, because I'm sure that that'll make everyone want one.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:12 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


There is (was?) a bot account on twitter whose sole purpose is to tell people they meant “sneak peek” not “peak.” I got a reply from them once and was very disappointed in myself, but then was immediately amused.
posted by obfuscation at 12:37 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


> Lately she has been doing it again.

Hm, seems like she's stuck in a ...
posted by taz (staff) at 1:06 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


I don't believe I've ever shared the story of The Worst Thing I Have Ever Said, and this thread seems like the appropriate place to unburden myself.

When I was in high school I was selected as a [local news station] Top Teen. They chose one a week from all over the city throughout the school year, so I wasn't like the best ever or anything, it was just a nice thing and also a way to recognize the teacher who had nominated you. The teacher who nominated me was the first person who suggested I go to the college I eventually went to, that it would suit my "quirky personality" well, so I was happy to be able to say something nice about him publicly. Plus you got to be on real actual TV for like 2-3 minutes.

I had had a huge fight with my mom that morning re. how to dress, if I had to wear makeup, what to say, etc, because colleges would be watching, and already just in general am bad at official talking, so I was super nervous. The reporter and a cameraperson came to my school, and the headmaster had them set up in his office so he could monitor and make sure the school came off well. No pressure.

So anyway it's me, the reporter, the cameraperson, my teacher, and the headmaster all crammed into this small office. The reporter is asking me pretty basic questions about things like my favorite subject, extracurriculars, the service projects I'm doing, etc. And then she asks what it's like being one of my teacher's students, since they're going to film a short bit with him momentarily.

And this is where I say The Worst Thing I Have Ever Said.

I say to this reporter, in front of my teacher and my teacher's boss, on filmed-for-television camera, that as a kid who has never really fit in, I loved that Mr. Redacted not only appreciated my kinky personality, but found ways for me to apply my kinkiness in special projects. And then just smiled dumbly into the camera in complete silence.

I hear my teacher stammer "that's not..." and I look up at him. He was already a fair complected guy and he had gone so white he was basically clear, just gape mouthed like a fish. At this point I realize something has gone wrong and start rapidly reviewing every choice I had ever made up until that point in my life and then more or less vomit up the word "QUIRKY. HE SAID I'M QUIRKY. QUIRKY IS THE WORD. HA HA YUP THAT'S ME I'M SO QUIRKY HA HA HA." Reporter just says "how about we do another take?"

Anyway it was very bad, very very bad, the cut they put on TV didn't include anything after the first minute of interview, the shots with my teacher in them he looked like he was staring into the face of Death itself, and I think it took a good month before either of even looked at each other again. I don't know what went on between the headmaster and my teacher but as far as I know none of this was ever spoken of again, thank god. I had managed to stuff this down into the deep recesses of repressed high school memories but it came back to me after the elite college question on the green last week. (So thanks for that.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:13 PM on March 7 [15 favorites]


K2 is literally the only "sneak peak" hiding away in any mountain range.

My wonderful mother used to make food in novel combinations to "ring in the changes" but The Changes is a mathematical pattern, the number of ways you can ring a 1..n sequence in a thing they call derangements. You'd say "The bellringers are ringing The Changes."
posted by k3ninho at 1:20 PM on March 7


On YouTube I’ve seen hundreds of comments in which 'loose' has been substituted for 'lose', and a few just lately with the opposite.

Combining that with the way 'too' and 'to' are loosing their separate identities, I guess I shouldn’t have been startled by a person in apparently desperate circumstances writing that they had "nothing left too loose."

Then there was a recent thread in which people were discussing prior criminal histories of Trump associates in terms of their "wrap sheets" and "beating the wrap", which I actually kind of like.

A few days ago there was a comment outlining an easy baking procedure, and culminating in "wha la, fresh bread!", but I’d seen that one at least half a dozen times before.
posted by jamjam at 1:31 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Boyfiend, girlfiend, but womenfiends really nails it for me. We call each other that, me and my fiends, anyway.
Sole searching, aka fishing.
Sole hair, a common story.
Soul hair...
Seoul hair...
Sole survivor, (the one which got away.
Soul heir, (all the rockers.)
Twin peeks
posted by Oyéah at 1:43 PM on March 7


I love the misheard song lyrics. The kissthisguy.com misheard song lyrics database is great, FencingGal.

It reminds me of Peter Kay's 5m on the topic. Which might actually be drawn from the source above. Also, this Vacant Lot sketch.

None of mine are actually very funny. I spent a long time singing nonsense to biblical names in jazz/gospel songs 'cause I didn't know what any of the words actually were. (Chad Rack, Me Sack, Adobe Lego? It's so much easier to figure out now that search engines exist.) My mother didn't figure out what it meant for something to be "donserly" in the US national anthem for years.
posted by eotvos at 1:46 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Speaking of peak and peek, what about pique? It drives me crazy to see someone write, "It peaked my interest" even though I can see why that version was their choice.
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:59 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


nothing left too loose

Now there's a username if I ever heard one.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:03 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


On my first visit in Thailand, I saw a sign outside a shop advertising Tattoos - While You Wait.

In Bali I saw a sign for a store offering Antiques Made to Order.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:03 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


One of my students wrote about pee-ons, even explaining why they were called that (because they're the sort you would pee on, of course).

But I try not to get too excited about internet spelling errors - I've made mistakes where I absolutely know better - right vs. write, for instance. It makes me wonder if there's something weird about the brain and typing online.
posted by FencingGal at 2:14 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Based on my own lived experience, I think there's something weird about the brain full stop.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:30 PM on March 7


Some of us have everything too loose...
posted by Don Pepino at 2:53 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


At the play I'm in the other night, one girl said she was "full of pee" and this was misheard as "pinot" and then everyone wondered how she was drinking before the show :P
Added bonus: THIS IS URINETOWN, so of course there are pee jokes.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:28 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


May Contain Urine?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:34 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


One of my students wrote about pee-ons, even explaining why they were called that (because they're the sort you would pee on, of course).

With so much of the population being pissed-off at any given moment, it stands to reason that there must be an an equal and opposite group who are pissed-on.
posted by jamjam at 3:53 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


There's a hilarious exchange in Schmigadooon! in which a character explains their understanding of the phrase as "It's a doggy dog world," complete with a description of how low a person has to sink to be like the pet of a pet.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:46 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I am so late to the party that no one will see this, but I just thought of one! As a small child I thought the Neighborhood of Make-Believe on Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood was actually called the Neighborhood of Maple Leaf and was therefore a fictionalized version of Canada. (I lived in upstate New York, so I knew about the Canadian flag.) I guess I never discussed this with anyone, until I confused my mom by mentioning something about Canada being a monarchy.
posted by centrifugal at 6:19 PM on March 7 [10 favorites]


One time when my son was young, he was telling a story about someone who had an “ulterior motive”, but he fumbled the delivery and it came out as “interior modem”. Of course, in our family an interior modem is now the appropriate phrase to describe someone with secret reasons.
posted by msali at 7:54 PM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Also, since I was reminded of it by reading this thread, and reposting youtube links that I originally learned about on metafilter is apparently what I do now, I recommend Seagulls (Stop It Now).
posted by eotvos at 8:29 PM on March 7


Oh, pet gendering!

My father-in-law believes all longhaired cats are girls and all shorthaired cats are boys.

No, really.

This is not the only thing he is confidently wrong about, but it’s probably the most charming one.
posted by armeowda at 9:29 PM on March 7 [6 favorites]


Our older daughter came home yesterday talking about the fourth grade speech competition, and mentioned that a friend had been eliminated. Younger daughter came bursting through the door asking "WAIT WHO'S GETTING LEMONADE??"
posted by saladin at 4:18 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


One of my students wrote about pee-ons, even explaining why they were called that (because they're the sort you would pee on, of course).

With so much of the population being pissed-off at any given moment, it stands to reason that there must be an an equal and opposite group who are pissed-on.


I thought it was pee-on for years, for exactly that reason--mostly because I already was familiar with the term "piss-ant" for an insignificant person and figured pee-on was a variant.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:15 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Jon Mitchell: We have had so many text typos happen that we also just tend to let them replace the real words now, my favourite being "pegfaps" for perhaps. It's just a better word.

My phone, for some reason, consistently replaces the word "but" with "BUTFULAKE". I don't know why (it's, apparently, a Chinese electronics company that I've never heard of), but it makes my girlfriend laugh every time, so I've never tried to change it.

Another consistent typo that I've mentioned before: At work, we use an off-the-shelf data mining package to store log data from all of our servers. If, in an email, you forget to capitalize the name of this software, auto-correct will turn it into a very different word. So, if you're like me, and you're typing very quickly, you end up sending endless emails to your boss talking about 'spunk repositories'.
posted by hanov3r at 9:04 AM on March 8 [6 favorites]


While on a lunchtime walk I overheard someone blasting the Steve Miller song Jet Airliner, which reminded me that when I was little I thought he was singing "Big ol' Jer left the light on." ("Jer" being the nickname bestowed upon my brother's childhood friend Jeremy.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:05 AM on March 8


As a kid, I not only thought Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon" was "Come-a to Me, Leon" ... I was also convinced it was by Menudo, who I had just seen on Silver Spoons.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:20 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


, , , , , 🦎
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:18 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


My little sister, when she was three, once spent a great deal of time setting out her plastic tea set in a precise and elaborate arrangement. Once all was to her satisfaction, she bowled up to my parents, and announced proudly: “I invite you all to a gormless* dinner!”

* British slang for ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish’, for those unfamiliar with the word.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 12:34 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


hanov3r, thanks for the link to the Most Awkward thread!
posted by mpark at 4:05 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Facebook popped up with a reminder today of a discussion with friends from a few years back about malaphors. My dad's favorite, aside from the previously mentioned "we'll burn that bridge when we come to it", was "that's a horse of another country heard from". I'm fond of "you opened that can of worms, now lie in it".
posted by hanov3r at 7:48 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


I thought it was pee-on for years, for exactly that reason...

As did some of my grade school compatriots in small town Idaho.
posted by y2karl at 7:54 AM on March 9


A old boss was a famous conjoined of phrases, though it seemed to happen at the conceptual rather than the textual level—a rare skill. One of her best was in reference to some imagined future difficulty. I *think* she intended to downplay it when she said: “if that happens we’ll just have to draw a line in the sand and pee on it.”
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:32 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


This is gonna be one of those threads I come back to again and again whenever I need a laugh.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:55 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


From the comments section of this video:
When we realized that their spines easily penetrate through the souls of our snickers, we knew we were in huge trouble.
posted by jamjam at 3:46 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


EC: Makes more sense than “piquant jet-head lionel,” which is how my child brain rendered it.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:33 AM on March 15


I was watching a TikTok recently where someone was discussing the Tudors and mentioned Catherine of Aragorn
posted by brilliantine at 10:07 AM on March 15


« Older Ukraine   |   182: too many trees, not enough goats Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments