Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Word

Mondegreen: A misheard lyric

From Wikipedia:
The American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term mondegreen in an essay "The Death of Lady Mondegreen," which was published in Harper's Magazine in November 1954. In the essay, Wright described how, as a young girl, she misheard the final line from the 17th century ballad "The Bonnie Earl O' Murray."
She wrote:
When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy's Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray, [sic]
And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green." As Wright explained the need for a new term, "The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is that they are better than the original."

Olive the other reindeer (All of the other reindeer.)

Surely Good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life (Surely goodness and mercy… from Psalm 23)

Round John Virgin ('Round yon virgin.)

And so any favorites?

And, for word-lover fun, a whole site devoted to mondegreens.

1 comment:

Irie said...

There's the classic "'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" by Jimi Hendrix... instead of "kiss the sky" :)

There is another web archive of mondegreens and "mishearances" at and I admit I may have made a few contributions to the database but I don't remember what they are!