What would you call the following:

Speak now or forever hold your piece.

  • 3
    I would call it a spelling error/mistake, since that is what it is. Unless you are talking about the (rather rare) situation where the write is exploiting homophony to deliberately spell something wrong and make a joke about it, it really is more of a case of not knowing how a word is spelt (or having fingers that are faster than your brain) than of ‘using’ the ‘wrong’ word. Aug 20, 2013 at 14:15
  • could be a Freudian Slip...depending on the case. Aug 20, 2013 at 17:42
  • @nathanhayfield I was the offender and it was an email I sent at work so I was suitably embarrassed by the eggcorn in general and almost as much as by the innuendo-like connotations. Luckily my colleagues are understanding and (now) excited to have learned what an eggcorn is.
    – eebbesen
    Aug 20, 2013 at 18:26
  • 1
    I would call it an appropriate sentence in the following context: A face-off at gunpoint. The man in black telescope hat and alligator boots steadies his Winchester as he presses the young man wielding only a revolver to give away the stagecoach position and movement. The young man will not yield. The man in black telescope hat and alligator boots bellows: Speak now or forever hold your piece! (Cowboys were often buried with their weapon.)
    – Talia Ford
    Sep 21, 2013 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


The word is eggcorn

a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one which sounds very similar.

We even have an tag.

  • And I just learned that ‘eggcorn’ isn’t as limited as I thought it was—I always though an eggcorn was specifically a misheard song lyric that ended up having a humorous meaning. Aug 20, 2013 at 14:37
  • 2
    @JanusBahsJacquet: oh, that's a particular kind of eggcorn called a mondegreen
    – Mitch
    Aug 20, 2013 at 15:04

I would call this a malaprop, or malapropism. A famous one quoted on Wikipedia is from Yogi Berra, the king of the malaprops: "Texas has a lot of electrical votes" (should be "electoral" votes).

  • That’s a different kettle of fish, though—‘electrical’ and ‘electoral’ are not homophones, he just got two different words mixed up, like I always do with Monday and Wednesday, or with cucumbers and carrots (“Could you pass me that carrot, please?” — “What carrot? We don’t have any carrots …” — “Agh, I mean cucumber!”). Aug 20, 2013 at 14:35
  • 1
    I've always understood to refer to a spoken phrase where the two words sound similar but not identical, whereas 'peace' & 'piece' sound identical when spoken. Both dictionaries I've looked at seem to confirm that. See: chambers.co.uk/search.php?query=malaprop&title=21st & oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/malapropism. Thay both say 'similar' and mention 'amusing/comic effect' which obviously does not apply when words sound identical.
    – TrevorD
    Aug 20, 2013 at 14:38

I've seen the term "homophone aphasia" used for this before, I think an eggcorn would be if you spelled the wrong homophone out of ignorance, homophone aphasia being more to do with you consciously knowing the difference and unconsciously making the mistake out of some sort of aging process, ie. "a senior moment".

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