Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, I led the pigeons to the flag for I pledge allegiance to the flag.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A form of error arising from mishearing a spoken or sung phrase
  • n. A misunderstanding of a written or spoken phrase as a result of multiple definitions.

Etymologies

After (Lady) Mondegreen, a misinterpretation of the line (hae laid) him on the green, from the song "The Bonny Earl of Murray”.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Coined by Sylvia Wright in Harper’s Magazine (The Death of Lady Mondegreen, Nov 1954) from a mishearing of a line in the Scottish ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray: "They hae slay the Earl of Murray, / And laid him on the green" (misheard as “Lady Mondegreen”). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I'm so glad to have the term mondegreen now; it will surely vie with "earworm" for usefulness.

    It's all workin' out. - A Dress A Day

  • It involves a quirky novel written by MANDY GREEN (yep, a mondegreen of "mondegreen") whose story centers on a mondegreen ( "Gesundheit Whistle" misheard as GAZOON HIGH TWIZZLE).

    Mondegreens

  • It's called "mondegreen," and it means "the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase, such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song."

    Shawn Amos: "Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy" & Other Misheard Lyrics

  • It's a 'mondegreen', from The Bonnie Earl O' Murray:

    Waxing Lyrical

  • One thing led to another, and now I’m the administrator of a flaky effort called Mandy Green Project, largely aimed at helping make "mondegreen" a household word.

    Mondegreens

  • Not a mondegreen, but it's also advisable not to forget yr mum's in the car with you and start singing along to Rocks by Primal Scream.

    Mondegreens

  • It's either that or Tony Danza is a common mondegreen.

    Mondegreens

  • They'll particularly like the page "What is a mondegreen?", with a killer video full of 'em.

    Mondegreens

  • I'm a native of Vermont, and this is my favorite mondegreen (from the Beach Boys '"Kokomo"):

    Mondegreens

  • It's the '76 Manfred Mann's Earth Band cover that's responsible for the signature mondegreen on this one.

    Shawn Amos: "Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy" & Other Misheard Lyrics

Comments

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  • Never mind the "shoping" sic distraction-- more mondegreens at Jon Carroll's column archives.

    October 18, 2011

  • There is actually an entire game based on mondegreens...it's called Mad Gab.

    September 20, 2011

  • I think there's a name for sentence-length mondegreens like that - a French word maybe?

    The big challenge is to find two such sentences which both make sense individually.

    September 20, 2011

  • Won miniature aunt opt then extra sue she.
    (One minute you're on top, the next you're sushi.)

    September 20, 2011

  • Cue the Groucho Marx jokes:

    Groucho: "That's in every contract, that's what you call a sanity clause."
    Chico: "You can't a fool a me there ain't no Santy Claus"

    Minister: "We need to take up the tax"
    Groucho: "I'd like to take up the carpet."
    Minister: "I still insist we take up the tax."
    Groucho: "He's right - you've gotta take up the tacks before you can take up the carpet."

    "Do you rumba?"
    "Why, yes!"
    "Well, pick a rumba between one and ten."
    - Not sure if it counts if you misunderstand yourself. :)

    Chico: "Who are you?"
    Groucho: "Im fine, thanks. Who are you?"

    Ice Water? Get some Onions - that'll make your eyes water!

    May 17, 2009

  • Thanks, yarb--knew there was at least one other one somewhere.

    October 22, 2008

  • And yet more here.

    October 22, 2008

  • Also here and here.

    October 22, 2008

  • More mondegreens here.

    April 27, 2008

  • Gladly, the cross-eyed bear, thinks this word is awesome.

    November 1, 2007

  • I can never quite get the image of Vienna Teng carring an axe convincingly out of my head....

    November 1, 2007

  • I used to hear "Lucy and this guy with diamonds" (I assumed they were getting married.)

    November 1, 2007

  • can we start a misheard lyrics page?

    "There's a bathroom on the right."

    February 7, 2007

  • Wow. Is that the origin of this word? Never knew that...

    "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy."
    --Jimi Hendrix (not)

    By the way, interesting article on how the human brain can distinguish time intervals between phonemes with a 90% accuracy rate is in Newsweek this week (Feb. 12, 2007, p.14, or http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16961082/site/newsweek/), from whence I ripped off this example. :)

    February 7, 2007

  • Ye Highlands, and ye Lawlands
    Oh where have you been?
    They have slain the Earl of Murray,
    And they layd him on the green.

    December 12, 2006