Jeremy Butterfield Editorial

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lactose intolerant, lack toast (and) intolerant, lack toast and tolerant: eggcorns (4)

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Continuing my intrepid expedition into the fabled Kingdom of Eggcornia (“Here bee dragoons”), in this blog I’ll look at one more from the first ten of the list I mentioned originally. (The full list is at the bottom of this blog.) It is lack toast intolerant, and variants.

I’ll use the notation that I used and explained in an earlier blog.

lack toast intolerant, lack toast and tolerant and even lack toast and tall or rent, lack toast and toddler ant, etc. (lactose intolerant)

9.1.1 (In eggcorn database?)  Y;
9.1.2 (If in, date of first citation) 2004;

9.1.3 Typology possible t-insertion, at least for lack toast intolerant; in other words, the reverse of final d/t deletion, the phenomenon that explains explains e.g. dog-eat-dog becoming doggy-dog

9.2 (GloWbE figs.) n/a;

9.3 (Earliest Ngrams citation) n/a;

9.4.1 (History and explanation) I think this one is on the Barbary shores of the fabled land of Eggcornia. Or rather, it is more spoken about than spoken. Many of the Google hits for it are metalinguistic: people are slagging it off as a mistake.
However, it’s been around for quite a while: this site refers to its being mentioned in 1997, and Susie Dent mentioned it in her Language Report for 2006. And this Youtube link is an example, as is one of my images.
Being lactose intolerant has to do with milk products. Someone who had never heard the phrase before might assume there was a t missing, insert it, and come up with lack toast intolerant. But it doesn’t at first sight make a great deal of sense.

But then there is the “reshaping” lack toast and tolerant, which, actually makes more sense and might shed some light on lack toast intolerant. It makes more sense because, if I don’t know what the lactose in lactose intolerant is about, my thought processes might go something like this:

  • From context, it’s about food allergies;
  • Oh, yeah, some people are allergic to wheat products;
  • Toast’s got wheat in it, right?
  • So, what they’re saying is, they’re intolerant because they can’t eat toast;
  • Sure, I dig. Who wouldn’t be a bit grumpy if you can’t even eat toast?
  • And then, with the reformulation to lack toast and tolerant, the meaning is that the person so described, being wrongly supposed to be allergic to wheat, is now tolerant because they have not got toast, which contains it.

Far-fetched? Possibly. I’ll let you decide. I came up with this explanation, before discovering that someone else humorously suggested something along the same lines (see below).

The alternative, of course, and equally, or more likely, is that whoever uses the eggcorn understands exactly what the referent is, but has just never thought about analysing the individual parts of the phrase.

9.4.2 (Other observations) FWIW, Google searches using quotation marks produce these figures:

“lack toast intolerant” 39,600
“lack toast and tolerant” 8,240
“lack toast and intolerant” 327

In The Ants are My Friends (2007), Martin Toseland jokes about the last one: “If you wake up in a bad mood, don’t get breakfast soon enough and are generally a complete pain, you can be described as ‘lack toast and intolerant’;…”


  1. To be pacific (instead of to be specific)
  2. An escape goat (instead of a scapegoat)
  3. Damp squid (instead of damp squib)
  4. Nipped it in the butt (instead of nipped in the bud)
  5. On tender hooks (instead of on tenterhooks)
  6. Cold slaw (instead of coleslaw)
  7. A doggie-dog world (instead of dog-eat-dog world)
  8. Circus-sized (instead of circumcised)
  9. Lack toast and tolerant (instead of lactose intolerant)
  10. Got off scotch free (instead of got off scot-free)
  11. To all intensive purposes (instead of to all intents and purposes)
  12. Boo to a ghost (instead of boo to a goose)
  13. Card shark (instead of card sharp)
  14. Butt naked (instead of buck naked)
  15. Hunger pains (instead of hunger pangs)
  16. Tongue and cheek (instead of tongue-in-cheek)
  17. It’s a mute point (instead of moot point)
  18. Pass mustard (instead of pass muster)
  19. Just deserves (instead of just deserts)
  20. Foe par (instead of faux pas)
  21. Social leopard (instead of social leper)
  22. Biting my time (instead of biding my time)
  23. Curled up in the feeble position (instead of curled up in the foetal position)
  24. Curve your enthusiasm (instead of curb your enthusiasm)
  25. Heimlich remover (instead of Heimlich manoeuvre)
  26. Ex-patriot (instead of expatriate)
  27. Extract revenge (instead of exact revenge)
  28. Self -depreciating (instead of self-deprecating)
  29. As dust fell (instead of as dusk fell)
  30. Last stitch effort (instead of last ditch effort)

 

 

 

 

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Author: Jeremy Butterfield

Editor of Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Writer, wordsmith, copywriter, copy-editor and lover of words. I provide editing, web copywriting, and marketing copywriting services in the Central Belt of Scotland, including Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh and surrounding areas, as well as throughout the UK. You can find me on Twitter @JezzB2.

13 thoughts on “lactose intolerant, lack toast (and) intolerant, lack toast and tolerant: eggcorns (4)

  1. Some of these are great. A social leopard …! I’m surprised by butt naked. I always assumed that this was a long-established folksy expression from across the pond. I notice that some sources seem to be unsure which version came first, buck or butt. Is buck definitely the real and original?

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    • Hi, John,

      I’m not sure that anyone really knows, for absolutely certain. Grammarist has this, which suggests that buck is older, which is also my hunch. The OED only lists ‘butt naked’ as a phrase, with a first citation as recent as 1968 (but the entry has not be been revised for the 3rd edn yet). The Corpus of Historical American tends to confirm the suspicion that ‘buck’ is older, the first citation being from 1958, whereas the first for ‘butt’ is decades later, in 1993.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that. It makes me think that there are two types here. There are the majority where the alternate version makes little sense (as in leopard), but there are also the cases where the alternate version is as good as or even better than the original, such as hunger pains, which seems as good to me as hunger pangs. All very interesting! Keep it coming.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I make you right, there, John. Well, sort of. I think in many cases the alternative makes a lot of sense, but, as you say, in some cases it makes even more sense than the original.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve got nearly all of them there, as Shakespeare nearly said in “one foul swoop”.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for the image of a social leopard. I’ll have to find a way to work that into my writing. Currently I’m enjoying the increasing use of ‘misunderestimated’ and ‘It’s déja vue all over again!’ Never sure if people are serious or ironic when they use these expressions. Misunderestimated isn’t an eggcorn, so what’s its technical designation?

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  4. It’s just a malaphorism … 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I suppose misunderestimated is a weird ‘blend’ or ‘portmanteau’ of mis- and ‘underestimate’. ‘Malaphor’ is a semi-jokey term, combining ‘metaphor’ and ‘malapropism’, for a blended idiom, also known as a ‘blidiom’, e.g. it’s not rocket surgery. https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2017/05/24/malaphors/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rocket surgery! I like it …

    Liked by 1 person

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