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mondegreen

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English

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Etymology

Coined by Sylvia Wright in Harper’s Magazine (The Death of Lady Mondegreen, Nov 1954) from a mishearing of the stanza in the Scottish ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray

Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands
Oh where hae you been?
They hae slay the Earl of Murray,
And laid him on the green. (Misheard as “And Lady Mondegreen”)

Pronunciation

Noun

Singular
mondegreen

Plural
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mondegreen ({{{1}}})
  1. A form of error arising from mishearing a spoken or sung phrase
    Examples:
    • “The ants are my friends, blowin’ in the wind.” (“The answer, my friend, is...”) from Bob Dylan'sBlowin' In the Wind.”
    • “There's a bathroom on the right” (“There's a bad moon on the rise”) from Creedence Clearwater Revival'sBad Moon Rising.”
    • “'Scuse me while I kiss this guy” (“'Scuse me while I kiss the sky”) from Jimi Hendrix'sPurple Haze.”
    • A popular joke has a child being asked what God's first name is, and he replies, “Andy.” He gets this name from the hymn “In the Garden” (also known as “I Come To the Garden Alone”): “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own ...” as opposed to, “And He walks with me ...” Another version has a child saying God's name is Harold, from the Lord's Prayer, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name...” as opposed to “hallowed be thy name...”
  2. (rare) A misunderstanding of a written or spoken phrase as a result of multiple definitions.

See also

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