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7 words that came about from people getting them wrong

Change Dictionary Definition Word Adapt Evolve

Us older folk realize nearly daily that our language is changing, but some words just seem to have been around forever. Not so, of course.

Here is a partial list of some words that we take for granted, that evolved because people kept mispronouncing or otherwise getting them wrong:

1. PEA
Originally the word was “pease,” and it was singular. (“The Scottish or tufted Pease..is a good white Pease fit to be eaten.”) The sound on the end was reanalyzed as a plural ‘s’ marker, and at the end of the 17th Century people started talking about one “pea.” The older form lives on in the nursery rhyme “Pease-porridge hot, pease-porridge cold…”

The same thing happened to “cherise” or “cheris,” which came from Old French “cherise” and was reanalyzed as a plural. So the singular “cherry” was born.

Others included in Mental Floss’s list are:

  • apron
  • umpire
  • newt
  • nickname
  • alligator

For more, see Mental Floss.

More stories about linguistics and the English language.

Photo credit: iQoncept – Fotolia.com

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