Monday, July 7th – mondegreen

July 8, 2008

Today I Learned…

…a new word.  Among the new words in this year’s edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary is mondegreen, defined by the American Heritage dictionary as, “A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric.”  The term originated from the line “he laid him on the green” in the song “The Bonny Earl of Murray,” which is commonly misheard as “Lady Mondegreen.”

The best example in common knowledge is the Jimi Hendrix lyric “‘scuse me while I kiss the sky,” from Purple Haze.  The mondegreen, which became the title of a book of commonly misheard song lyrics, is “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.”

I’ve been aware of the concept before, but I had not heard of the word.  I’m a big fan of words like this that are created from literary examples of the very thing being defined; like malapropism (from Mrs. Malaprop from Sheridan’s The Rivals) or portmanteau (from Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass, itself a portmanteau).

Further Reading

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