(also sometimes spelt 'mondagreen') is the mishearing (usually accidental) of a phrase, such that it acquires a new meaning. The word is a mondegreen of "They hae slain the Earl o' Murray and laid him on the green", from the anonymous 17th Century ballad 'The Bonnie Earl O' Murray', the last five words being misheard as "Lady Mondegreen".
Sylvia Wright is thought to have coined the word to describe all such mishearings.
While a common occurrence for children, many adults have their own collection, particularly with regard to popular music.
- Australians all are ostriches (from the opening line of the Australian national anthem - "Australians all let us rejoice")
- Excuse me while I kiss this guy (from a lyric in the song "Purple Haze", by Jimi Hendrix - "Excuse me while I kiss the sky")
- This guy is cryin (from a lyric in the song "The Sky is Crying", by Stevie Ray Vaughan)
- The girl with colitis goes by (from a lyric in the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", by The Beatles - "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.")
- I helped Apple wreck a nice beach (from T-shirt given out by Apple Computer's Speech Recognition Laboratories. The example illustrates how mondegreens can be a problem for computerized voice recognition. Read fast, the sentence can be heard as "I helped Apple recognize speech.")
and some children's ones:
- ... and deliver us some e-mail ... (from the Lords Prayer - "... and deliver us from evil ...")
- ... blessed art thou, a monk swimming ... (from the Hail Mary phrase "... blessed art thou amongst women ...")
Quite a few mondegreens may be seen in captioned live TV broadcasting
of impromptu speeches, interviews, etc.
Some mondegreens arise from false friends.
A phrase in one language may be misheard as a semi-sensical phrase in another language.
The humorous aspect of these has given rise to a music video genre known as animutation.