It's a good-news day when the hometown paper has a headline about new dictionary words. Actually, the hundred or so words Merriam-Webster is adding to the 2008 update of its Collegiate Dictionary aren't new--just newly added. And some of them are surprisingly old.
Who knew, for example, that fanboy ("boy who is an enthusiastic devotee, such as of comics or movies") dates back to 1909? Or that wingnut ("Slang: one who advocates extreme measures or changes; radical") first appeared in print circa 1900?
It's nice to see mondegreen ("word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung. From the mishearing in a Scottish ballad of 'laid him on the green' as 'Lady Mondegreen'") finally getting its due. Its first print appearance was in 1954; I learned the word about four decades later, through Jon Carroll's many columns devoted to the topic. Merriam-Webster is asking readers to submit their favorite mondegreens; read more here.
And yes, a mondegreen is a subgenre of eggcorn. Perhaps eggcorn will make the Collegiate's twelfth edition?
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