Have you ever heard a song lyric and been sure you know what it says only to find out later your interpretation was completely wrong? If so then you already know what a mondegreen is. Here are a
few examples of misheard lyrics from popular music. See if you can guess the song:
- “Bald headed woman” is actually this song.
- “‘Scuse me, while I kiss this guy” is from this song.
- “I’ve got two chickens to paralyze” was a 70s hit.
- “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not” from this song.
- “Ohh, ho, dyslexics on fire” was performed on Letterman.
- “My pony plays the mamba” from this song.
- “There’s nothing that a hundred men on Mars could ever do” from this song.
- “I can’t bite the ceiling” is from this song.
- “Lovin’ an alligator” by this band.
- “ducks are hazards in the classroom” from this song.
There’s an entire site devoted to these here.
According to Wikipedia, the neologism “mondegreen” was coined by Sylvia Wright in a 1954 essay for Harper’s magazine. Her essay explained:
When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy’s Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:
- Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl O’ Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual concluding line was “And laid him on the green.” Wright suggested the word “mondegreen” for all such cases of substitute, misheard words.