Sunday, 1 April 2012


So what's a mondegreen?

A mondegreen is a song or poetry lyric that we mishear; and it is usually quite funny (some think it is an improvement on the original). For example "spare him his life from this one-sausage tea" is a mondegreen for "spare him his life from this monstrosity" from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.


Thought up by Sylvia Wright, a Harpers Bazaar contributor, the term mondegreen is actually a mondegreen itself. Sylvia had always thought that the last two lines of the Scots ballad, The Bonnie Earl of Murray, ran "They hae slain the Earl Amurray, And Lady Mondegreen", when the actual words were "They have slain the Earl O’ Moray, And layd him on the green".

Hence in 1954 the term mondegreen was coined - by Silvia - in the absence of 'proper' term, and has been adopted into the English lexicon.

Some purlers include:
  • "Haffely, Gaffely, Gaffely, Gonward", instead of "Half a league, half a league | Half a league onward" from Lord Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade.
  • "Wrapped up like a douche" instead of "Revved up like a deuce" from Manfred Mann's Earth Band's Blinded by the Light.
  • "She's got electric boobs, and mohair shoes" instead of "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit" from Elton John's Benny & the Jets.
  • "She was a fax machine, she kept her modem clean" instead of "She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean" from AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long.
  • "She's got a chicken to fry" instead of "She's got a ticket to ride" from The Beatles' Ticket to Ride (doesn't the song title give it away?!).

Check out the original OED article on this at

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