The first time I listened to Lorde’s song “Supercut” in 2017, I was convinced that the line “into continents and cars” was actually “it’s in confidence and carbs.” I was wrong, of course, but it’s so easy to mishear words when they are sung so stylistically differently than the everyday speech in which we are used to hearing them. The word mondegreen, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung,” actually refers to this specifically. The best part of this word is that the word for a mondegreen comes from a mondegreen itself. The Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Earl O’ Moray” begins with the following stanza:
Ye heilands and ye lowlands,
O whaur hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o' Murray,
And laid him on the green;
However, people often heard “laid him on the green” as “Lady Mondegreen,” which led to the coinage of the word “mondegreen.” Mondegreen is also an example of something called an autological word--it’s a word for something with a quality that the word itself also possesses. “Mondegreen” is, in itself, a mondegreen. Other autological words include: