I know that the term "mondegreen" (the term used for mishearing a word, coined by author Sylvia Wright when she famously misheard a lyric in The Bonny Earl of Murray) can technically be used for any misheard word, but I found myself wondering lately: does anyone know of a specific term used to describe misheard words outside of song lyrics?

To be clear, I mean if, say, you said to someone

You can't carry that, you have a bad back.

And they thought you said

You can't carry that, you have a backpack.

I haven't been able to find any other terms in my online research, but I'm really curious as to whether there is one. Have at it, StackExchange!

2 Answers 2


Otosis conveys the meaning you are referring to:

  • mishearing or misinterpretation of spoken sounds, also an alteration in word forms due to it.



  • Mid 19th cent. From ancient Greek ὠτ-, οὖς ear + -osis.


  • And now I have a new word to annoy my wife with! That'll do nicely, thanks. Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 11:42

According to Grammarist Sarah Belliston, the word you're looking for is eggcorn. See http://grammarist.com/mondegreens/.

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