Law-related “eggcorns” (malaprops)


Legal Eggcorns

An “eggcorn” is a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another and often appears as a misspelling of the original. The term itself derived from a mishearing of the word “acorn.” Another term for these errors is malaprop. Some examples you might be familiar with are could of for could’ve, last stitch effort for last ditch effort, and for all intensive purposes for for all intents and purposes.

The following law-related eggcorns are real, and I have the citations to prove it. Some are certainly genuine eggcorns, and others are probably just typos, but they’re all entertaining. All but one are from judicial opinions.

illicit a response (elicit a response)
“The flavor of plaintiff’s counsel’s conduct throughout the trial is perhaps best illustrated by the following episode, in which plaintiff’s counsel was supposedly trying to illicit a response from plaintiff which would describe the size of the warehouse where the accident took place.”

  • Ballarini v. Clark Equip. Co., 841 F. Supp. 662, 667 (E.D. Pa. 1993)

mute point (moot point)
“For forensic patients, the discharge planning process and treatment did not include an initial, meaningful discussion of housing. Aftercare was a mute point.”

  • Bates v. Duby, 2003 WL 21921169, at *124 (Me. Super. May 23, 2003)

flush out (flesh out)
“It is not the role of this Court to construct arguments for the parties, or to flush out incomplete arguments.”

  • Estate of Hurst ex rel. Cherry v. Jones, 750 S.E.2d 14, 25 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013)

quickclaim deed (quitclaim deed)
“In support of her assertion, she has directed the court’s attention to a quickclaim deed executed by Burns McFarland on March 27, 2003.”

  • McFarland v. McFarland, 2009 WL 692298, at *5 n.1 (N.D. Iowa Mar. 16, 2009)

preemptory challenge (peremptory challenge)
“In his application for habeas relief, Jones argued that at trial the prosecution used its preemptory challenges to strike black persons from the jury in violation of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

  • Jones v. Ryan, 987 F.2d 960, 962 (3d Cir. 1993)

collaborating evidence (corroborating evidence)
“The IJ noted that Liu had failed to provide any additional collaborating evidence.”

  • Bi Gan Liu v. U.S. Atty. Gen., 305 F. App’x 602, 605 (11th Cir. 2008)

tenants of the Constitution (tenets of the Constitution)
“To allow the Respondent the ability to flippantly hide behind a state statute in order to avoid compliance with one of the tenants of our Constitution that proper notice of a property interest must be given, is contrary to that authority and should be corrected.”

  • Cune v. Bryan Indep. Sch. Dist., 2010 WL 8802133, *4 (Tex. 2010) (Petition for Discretionary Review—written by a lawyer; not pro se)

pass mustard (pass muster)
“While it may not pass mustard under the statutory standard for § 1325, most people in the community would not consider such an expense—if not manipulated—to be abusive.

  • In re Vansickel, 309 B.R. 189, 209 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 2004)