Friday is your last chance to submit your favourite mondegreen to Merriam-Webster. “Mondegreen” is one of the new words M-W has added to the M-W Collegiate Dictionary this year, meaning “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung.” The original name comes from the mishearing ofÂ “laid him on the green” in an old Scottish ballad asÂ “Lady Mondegreen.” Other examples:
- Row, row, row your boat, life is but a dream = Row, row, row your boat, life’s a butter dream
- The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind = The ants are my friends
I was interested to find out how M-W chooses the new words accepted for the dictionary. “As soon as we see the word used without explanation or translation or gloss, we consider it a naturalized citizen of the English language,” said Peter Sokolowski, an editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster. “If somebody is using it to convey a specific idea and that idea is successfully conveyed in that word, it’s ready to go in the dictionary.”
Other words that made it this year: air quotes, mental health day and prosecco.
Sue, I’m a big mondegreen fan. My personal favourite comes from childhood. When we recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, I said, “And to the Republic, for Richard Stands” instead of “And to the Republic, for which it stands.” For a while, I wondered who this Richard guy was!