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Mar 4, 2019
This week’s theme
Words from previous years

This week’s words
mondegreen
resistentialism
spoonerism
petrichor
omphaloskepsis

mondegreen
“Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly”
for
“Deck the halls with boughs of holly”

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Next week we complete 25 years of Wordsmith.org. To celebrate, we are organizing contests with lots of exciting prizes. Look for the announcement soon.

For A.Word.A.Day this week, we have decided to take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of the words we have featured in the past. It’s hard to pick just five words out of thousands that have appeared here during the last 25 years.

So we decided to go by reader feedback: we selected words that have generated the most enthusiastic responses. If you have been around here for a while you may have met some of these words earlier. Well, say hello to them again.

What favorite words have you discovered or seen in A.Word.A.Day? Write to us at words@wordsmith.org or post them below.

Also share your favorite examples of mondegreens and other words featured this week.

mondegreen

PRONUNCIATION:
(MON-di-green)

MEANING:
noun: A word or phrase resulting from mishearing a word or phrase, especially in song lyrics.

Example: “The girl with colitis goes by” for “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes” (in the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”).

ETYMOLOGY:
Coined by author Sylvia Wright when she misinterpreted the line “laid him on the green” as “Lady Mondegreen” in the Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Earl O’ Moray”. Earliest documented use: 1954.

USAGE:
“Sometimes in musical announcements, words lose their meaning, or are misheard, resulting in a delightful mondegreen. ... The audience thought Walter Love had said: ‘We are beginning tonight with Howard Ferguson’s overture ‘Fornication’.’” (instead of “Overture for an Occasion”).
Paul Clements; An Irishman’s Diary; Irish Times (Dublin); Oct 5, 2016.

“[Tim Minchin’s] elocution is so exquisite there’s not a mondegreen in earshot.”
Suzanne Simonot; Tim and Tom Show a HOTA Opening Act; The Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Australia); Mar 19, 2018.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It took less than an hour to make the atoms, a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, but five billion years to make man! -George Gamow, physicist and cosmologist (4 Mar 1904-1968)

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