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Mondegreens – Misheard LyricsMondegreens are a sort of aural malapropism. Instead of saying the wrong word, you hear the wrong word. The word mondegreen is generally used for misheard song lyrics, although technically it can apply to any speech. They are oronyms (homophones) which are discussed on a separate page of this site.
The term mondegreen was originally coined by author Sylvia Wright, and has come to be quite widely used. As a child, Wright heard the lyrics of The Bonny Earl of Murray (a Scottish ballad) as:
Oh where hae you been?
Thou hae slay the Earl of Murray
And Lady Mondegreen
It eventually transpired that Lady Mondegreen existed only in the mind of Sylvia Wright, for the actual lyrics said that they "slay the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green." And to this day Lady Mondegreen's name has been used to describe all mishearings of this type!
Here is a selection of misheard lyrics from popular songs, hymns, and carols:
Related PagesYou might also be interested in taking a look at our oronyms section, and the malapropisms and mondegreens books page. See also our collections of malapropisms from celebrities, and from Richard Sheridan's Mrs. Malaprop.
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