The title of this post is a mondegreen, a snippet of spoken language (in this case a song lyric) that has been misheard. Ever had this happen to you? Sylvia Wright did. Throughout her childhood, her mother often recited “The Bonnie Earl O’ Murray,” a poem from the 17th century. Wright always heard the first stanza as:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual fourth line is “And laid him on the green.” Wright did not realize for years that there actually was no death of Lady Mondegreen. In 1954, she invented the term mondegreen to describe this type of mishearing, naming it after her fictional heroine.
Here are some other mondegreens. See if you can recognize what the line should actually be.
Olive, the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names
Baking carrot biscuits
Sleep in heavenly peas
Jose, can you sing?
The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind
Looking for more? Family Circus cartoons are a treasure trove of mondegreens (and other examples of language running wild). See some examples below.