Mondegreens are rampant, we’ve all said them, and many are hilarious. So what are they and why do they have such a strange name? A mondegreen is a word or phrase that results from the mishearing of something said or sung (Merriam Webster). Sylvia Wright coined the phrase in a 1954 article, writing about how as a girl she had misheard the words of a Scottish ballad “and laid him on the green” as “Lady Mondegreen”(wikipedia and other sources).
I recall laughing very hard as a child when I read this in a book: “Christ the royal master leans against the phone” The actual words are Christ the royal master leads against the foe, from the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers.
A week ago, my friend and skating coach Nancy took a bad fall on the ice. As we were hanging out in the ER, waiting for her CAT scan, we were talking about computers and frustrations. She referenced the screen freezing with the spinning beach ball and how she sometimes couldn’t get it unstuck. I asked if she had used “force quit”. She heard “four squid”, which incited all manner of hilarity, welcome comic relief indeed!
Here are a few others, contributed by friends:
From Elton John’s Tiny Dancer: “Hold me closer, Tony Danza”. Thanks, Angelique!
Elisa’s brother used this one: rather than “take me down to the Paradise City” from Guns N’ Roses, he went to Prairie Dog City!
A friends daughter heard “forget about your worries and you cares” from Bare Necessities as forget about your worries and your stripes.
I’ll finish the list with this, heard on a radio call in show by the aforementioned Nancy and her husband. The request was for “I was Barney Rubble”, the caller wanting I was Born a Rebel. Maybe Barney was a stone-age rebel.
If you’ve got some mondegreens to share, please leave them in the comments below, so we can all have fun, and thanks! And if you’re interested in word funnies of all sorts, you might enjoy parts 1 and 2 of this series, on malapropisms and malaphors.