Saturday, July 14, 2012


Mondegreen: the term for misheard song lyrics that give rise to new words or meanings.

Sylvia Wright coined it in an essay she had written for Harper’s in 1954, recounting a frequent mishearing of a lyric from a Scottish ballad called “The Bonny Earl O’Moray”

As a child, Wright heard the words as:

Ye highlands and ye lowlands
Oh where hae you been?
Thou hae slay the Earl of Murray
And Lady Mondegreen

Of course, Lady Mondegreen existed only in her mind, for the correct line reads, "slay the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green." To this day the "mondegreen" has been used to describe all misunderstandings of this type.

Here are a few classics:

“Secret Asian man”

“Chicken to ride”

“’Scuse me while I kiss this guy”

"There's a bathroom on the right"

"Slow walkin' Walter"

Feel free to share your own interpretations in the comment section.

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