What is a Mondegreen?


Do you know what a Mondegreen is?

It’s the mishearing of a phrase to give it a new meaning.  They are common in songs, where the lyric isn’t  heard correctly.  My favourite example is:

Our land abounds in nature’s gifts” heard as “Our land abounds in nature strips”.

The phenomenon of the Mondegreen has been exploited my many generations of choristers, who have sung “Most highly flavoured gravy” in a well known Christmas carol. (which should be Most highly favoured Lady“.  This probably started as a Mondegreen

I understand that the term was first used by the American writer Sylvia Wright, who misheard this poem:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,

Oh, where hae ye been?

They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray,

And laid him on the green”  which she thought was “And Lady Mondegreen”.


Share ones you know…..



  1. In my own family folklore we have a couple of examples. One day I came home from school, excited about the news of a TV program called Clippers of the Moon. That caused great confusion until they figured out there was going to be an eclipse of the Moon.
    My favourite is a line sung in the opera Carmen. We’d listen to this on a vinyl record, and at one point, she warbles beautifully, (in French)
    J’irai chez mon ami Lillas Pastia
    In English, that’s “I will go to the place of my friend, Lillas Pastia”.
    For a long time I was convinced she was singing “Shame on your naughty posture”
    I like my version better.

    Rod Taylor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *