Someone explained to me that social leopard refers to someone who is social, but I think it actually means "social leper". Who is right? Thank you!

  • 14
    A social leper probably isn't social though. Sep 18, 2019 at 6:41
  • 8
    Social leopards don't exist , never have so far. Something like the kids having a 'gift vulture' for a present.
    – Tim
    Sep 18, 2019 at 12:51
  • 7
    @Tim Social leopards do exist :-)
    – TripeHound
    Sep 18, 2019 at 12:59
  • 7
    Seeing as that site that you link to is a satirical site, relating to Mondegreen (eggcorn => acorn), social leopard is quite clearly a joke... Sep 18, 2019 at 13:57
  • 6
    @Greenonline it's not satirical - it's a sincere effort to catalogue non-standard reshapings encountered in the wild.
    – AakashM
    Sep 18, 2019 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


I thought it was social butterfly. From wiki:

A social butterfly is a slang term for a person who is socially dynamic, networking, charismatic, and personally gregarious.

Whereas a social leper can be broken down to social and leper.

According to Merriam Webster dictionary a leper is someone affected with leprosy. Leprosy is a serious, contagious and fatal disease caused by a mycobacterium leprae.

A leper is also defined as a person shunned for moral or social reasons by Merriam Webster dictionary. So it would make sense in a social context that lepers will always be avoided.

Therefore, a social leper would be someone that is deliberately avoided.

The term "social leopard" isn't found anywhere, can be assumed to be a mis-hearing for social leper.


A "leper" is someone who has leprosy. Now leprosy is very rare in the developed world, and can be cured easily. In fact, leprosy isn't even a very contagious disease.

But in the past, people were terrified of it. Quarantine was about the only effective medical technique they had (removing blood by cutting and leeches wasn't as helpful as you'd think). So if you saw someone with leprosy, you'd run like hell, lest you catch it yourself.

So lepers were avoided and shunned. Sent off to "leper colonies" to live, or die, away from everyone else.

So you can guess from this, a "social leper" is someone who isn't popular! There's an implication that if you hung around with them, you'd catch "social leprosy" too and would also start being avoided by friends. This can be for what's considered a good reason among those people, or it can be for bad reasons. Sometimes doing (or being) a particular thing can make you a social leper. Sometimes it's just falling out with the wrong person.

"Social leopard" is just a mis-hearing.

  • 22
    It's worth a mention that "social leopard" is a mondegreen or an eggcorn.
    – bubbleking
    Sep 18, 2019 at 15:32
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    "Easily cured" - Sure, if that's how you want to describe treatment that takes 6 to 24 months and doesn't reverse any existing nerve damage or disfigurement, etc. (But yes, leprosy is certainly less scary than it was before effective treatments existed.)
    – nnnnnn
    Sep 19, 2019 at 0:28
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    Oh okay. I actually thought it was a simple matter of antibiotics. And yes the existing nerve damage is permanent since, AIUI, they're destroyed. That's where the legendary "bits of your body falling off" comes from. Nerves die, in some part of the body. It goes numb. So when it's damaged, the person doesn't feel it. This can lead to infection, and so your finger / nose / whatever, dies and rots off. That's as I understand it. People must have seen lepers with pieces missing and assumed leprosy itself makes bits of you fall off. Nowadays, though, that's rare in developed countries.
    – Greenaum
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:06
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    The term mondegreen was originally coined in reference to misheard lines in a spoken ballad or poem, and has since been widely applied to misheard song lyrics too. I don't think it applies to misheard phrases more generally, so I wouldn't call "social leopard" a mondegreen, but it seems the dictionary disagrees with me about that.
    – nnnnnn
    Sep 20, 2019 at 1:45
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - FINE! The next time you get sick you can go see some traveling medical quack for a potion that's mostly ALCOHOL with some poisons mixed in for flavor! Meanwhile, us SMART people will go to a barber-chirurgeon and have leeches suck the bad humours out! IF IT WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ARISTOTLE IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!!!!! (Put another way - it kept the sick people exhausted and docile so that they'd die quietly without too much fuss and bother. I guess the motto of the barber-chirurgeons was, "If you can't do anything useful, you can at least give 'em a shave"). :-) Sep 21, 2019 at 3:37

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