Scribbled Lives Week 2—Word

This week’s prompt: choose a term that is new to me and illustrate it without defining it.

My friend, Elaine Smith, is an engaging writer who makes any topic fascinating! So when she posted Of Bagels and Earls on her Sueprgrammarian blog, I was intrigued. And that is how I came to learn about mondegreens.

A mondegreen is a misheard phrase, usually in a song or poem, resulting from a listener’s inability to clearly hear the words and so to replace them with lyrics that sound similar and make sense. It’s more than likely we’ve all made up our own personal mondegreens while listening to music and driving, jogging, or otherwise multitasking.

However, they were not given a catchy name until the mid-fifties when Sylvia Wright, a writer for Harper’s magazine, described her mishearing of a poem recited to her in childhood by her mother. In “The Bonny Earl o’Moray”, Sylvia Wright mistook the words “layd him on the green” and heard them as “Lady Mondegreen”!

She writes in her 1954 essay, “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.”

After learning about mondegreens, I shared the term with my husband. We’ve been laughing hysterically as we recount examples of lyrical mondegreens. He admitted to belting out the song “Candida” and was certain Tony Orlando and Dawn were singing “Oh, can’t beat ’em / We could make it together.” The actual lyrics are, “Oh, Candida / We could make it together.”

For this week’s prompt response, I chose the mondegreen that makes me roar with laughter.


In this piece, I play with a monoline alphabet designed by artist Lise Hellström. Pigma Microns and watercolour on Arches Text Wove. After testing every fineliner in the house, Pigma emerged as the waterproof champion!