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Coined by American author and editor Sylvia Wright in 1954 in Harper's Magazine[1] from a mishearing of a line in the Scottish ballad The Bonnie Earl O' Moray: “They have slain the Earl O' Moray, / And laid him on the green” (misheard as “Lady Mondegreen”).


  • enPR: mŏnd′əgrēn
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmɒndəɡɹiːn/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmɑndəɡɹiːn/
  • (file)


Examples (mishearing)
  • “The ants are my friends, blowin’ in the wind.” (“The answer, my friend, is...”) from Bob Dylan'sBlowin' In the Wind.”
  • “There's a bathroom on the right” (“There's a bad moon on the rise”) from Creedence Clearwater Revival'sBad Moon Rising.”
  • “'Scuse me while I kiss this guy” (“'Scuse me while I kiss the sky”) from Jimi Hendrix'sPurple Haze.”
  • “Andy walks with me…” (“And He walks with me…”) from the hymn “In The Garden”
  • “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Harold be Thy name…” (“…hallowed be thy name…”) from the Lord’s Prayer

mondegreen (plural mondegreens)

  1. A form of error arising from mishearing a spoken or sung phrase. [from 1954]
    Synonym: mishearing
    • 2012, Gary Rosen, Unfair to Genius: The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein, Oxford University Press (→ISBN)
      The title lyric, the only part of the original Yiddish preserved by Cahn, was a mondegreen waiting to happen—“My Mere Bits of Shame” and “My Beer, Mr. Shane” were among the earliest recorded mishearings—but the language barrier didn't []
  2. (rare) A misunderstanding of a written or spoken phrase as a result of multiple definitions.


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Sylvia Wright (November 1954), “The Death of Lady Mondegreen”, in Harper's Magazine[1], volume 209, issue 1254, pages 48–51: “The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is that they are better than the original.”