Susie Dent admits she eavesdrops on conversations to hear malapropisms

‘I am the Lord of the Dance SETTEE’: Countdown’s Susie Dent admits she eavesdrops on strangers’ chats in the hopes of hearing well-known phrases and song lyrics hilariously misheard… and admits even SHE gets it wrong

  • Dent told how someone said something was ‘the whole crotch of the matter’
  • She said when singing hymns at school she sang ‘I am Lord of the Dance settee’ 
  • Britons have also gotten songs wrong, including Starship’s We Built This City 

We can all remember that moment when we realise we’ve been singing along wrongly to a popular track or misquoted a well-known phrase. 

Malapropisms were also the bane of the life of George W. Bush, who was famous for his verbal slip-ups both during and after his time as US President.  

Now, Countdown star Susie Dent, 57, has written about rote how she eavesdrops on the conversations of strangers in the hope of hearing a malapropism. 

Writing in Saga Magazine, she told how one person in a coffee queue exclaimed that something was ‘the whole crotch of the matter’, while another explained in a text message that her boss was a ‘pre-Madonna’.

But the Countdown whizz admitted that when singing hymns at school she would sing ‘I am Lord of the Dance settee’ – instead of the correct ‘said he’.

She explained that the lyrics, from 1963 hymn Lord of the Dance, were about Jesus Christ dancing on a sofa.   

But it is not just well-known phrases that Britons have gotten wrong. Song lyrics often trip people up too. 

Research in 2016 revealed the top 40 most commonly misheard lyrics. 

Among them was a misquote of the main line of Starship’s hit ‘We Built This City’, with many Britons believing it is ‘We built this city on sausage rolls’ – rather than ‘rock and roll’. 

Countdown star Susie Dent has written about rote how she eavesdrops on the conversations of strangers in the hope of hearing a malapropism

Another, from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, saw some recite ‘Spare him his life from this warm sausage tea’, rather than ‘this monstrosity’.  

The most commonly misheard lyric according to the survey of 2,000 adults was from Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’. 

The line ‘Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free’ is often recounted as ‘money for nothin’ and chips for free’.

The term ‘malapropism’, which means refers to the mistaken use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, dates back to an 18th Century comedy character.

Mrs Malaprop featured in 1775 five-act comedy The Rivals. She often used words incorrectly. 

Her name stems from the French word mal à propos, which means ‘inappropriate’.

Overall, three quarters of the people surveyed by Starkey Hearing Technologies admitted to singing along to the wrong words of popular tunes.

Wannabe singers often mishear the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’, believing she is singing ‘All the lonely Starbucks lovers’ – and not ‘Got a long list of ex-lovers’.

Also featuring in the Top 40 is ‘Call me when you try to wake her’, from REM’s 1993 hit ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’. It is commonly misheard as ‘Calling Jamaica’.

From Johnny Nash’s ‘I can see clearly now’ is ‘I can see clearly now Lorraine is gone’ which when sang correctly is ‘I can see clearly now the rain has gone’.

The Countdown whizz admitted that when singing hymns at school she would sing ‘I am Lord of the Dance settee’ – instead of the correct ‘said he’. Above: Lord of the Dance is also the name for the popular Irish musical created by Michael Flatley (pictured)

While ‘Poppadum peach’ from Madonna’s ‘Papa don’t preach’ and ‘We’re caught in a trout’ from Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ also feature.

Hot Chocolate’s ‘Sexy thing’ is commonly mistaken – with ‘I believe in miracles’ misheard as ‘I remove umbilicals’.

And the chorus from Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on fire’ has been wrongly heard as ‘dyslexics on fire’.

Similarly, Chaka Kahn’s ‘I’m Every woman’ has been misheard as ‘I’m Terry Wogan’.

President Bush was called out for several malapropisms, including when he said in 2000: ‘We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.’ 

He in fact meant to say ‘hostage’.

Dent has appeared as Channel 4 show Countdown’s resident lexicographer – in the show’s ‘Dictionary Corner’ – since 1992.  

THE TOP 40 MOST MISHEARD LYRICS 

The below list was compiled after a survey of 2,000 Britons by Starkey Hearing Technologies in 2016:  

1. ‘Money for nothin’ and chips for free’. Correct lyric: ‘Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free’ from Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’.

2. ‘Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you’. Correct lyric: ‘Every time you go away take a piece of me with you’ from Paul Young’s ‘Every Time You Go Away’.

3. ‘Sue Lawley’. Correct lyric: ‘So lonely’ from The Police’s ‘So Lonely’.

4. ‘We built this city on sausage rolls’. Correct lyric: ‘We built this city on rock ‘n’ roll’ from Starship’s ‘We Built This City’.

5. ‘Saving his life from this warm sausage tea’. Correct lyric: ‘Spare him his life from this monstrosity’ from Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

6. ‘See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen’. Correct lyric: ‘See that girl, watch that scene, diggin’ the Dancing Queen’ from ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’.

7. ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy’. Correct lyric: ‘Excuse me while I kiss the sky’ from Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’.

8. ‘Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tangerine’. Correct lyric: ‘Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tambourine’ from ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’.

9. ‘Sweet dreams are made of cheese’. Correct lyric: ‘Sweet dreams are made of these’ from The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (are made of this)’.

10. ‘Calling Jamaica’. Correct lyric: ‘Call me when you try to wake her’ from R.E.M.’s ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’.

11. ‘Or should I just keep chasing penguins’. Correct lyric: ‘Or should I just keep chasing pavements’ from Adele’s ‘Chasing Pavements’.

12. ‘All the lonely Starbucks lovers’. Correct lyric: ‘Got a long list of ex-lovers’ from Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’.

13. ‘I can see clearly now, Lorraine is gone’. Correct lyric: ‘I can see clearly now, the rain is gone’ from Johnny Nash’s ‘I can see clearly now’.

14. ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme a man after midnight, take me to the doctors at the break of the day’. Correct lyric: ‘Take me through the darkness to the break of the day’ from ABBA’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’.

15. ‘Poppadom Peach’. Correct lyric: ‘Papa don’t preach’ from Madonna’s ‘Papa don’t preach’.

16. ‘It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not’. Correct lyric: ‘It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not’ from Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’.

17. ‘I’m farting carrots’. Correct lyric: ‘I’m 14 carat’ from Selena Gomez’s ‘Good for you’.

18. ‘Then I saw her face, now I’m gonna leave her’. Correct lyric: ‘Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer’ from The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’.

19. ‘I want to hold your ham’. Correct lyric: ‘I want to hold your hand’ from The Beatles’ ‘I want to hold your hand’.

20. ‘Kicking your cat all over the place’. Correct lyric: ‘Kicking your can all over the place’ from Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’.

21. ‘Blue seal in the sky with diamonds’. Correct lyric: ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ from The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’.

22. ‘Dyslexics on fire’. Correct lyric: ‘Your sex is on fire’ from Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’.

23. ‘Here we are now, in containers’. Correct lyric: ‘Here we are now, entertain us’ from Nirvana’s ‘Smells like teen spirit’.

24. “Let’s pee in the corner, let’s pee in the spotlight”. Correct lyric: “That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight” from R.E.M.’s ‘Losing my religion’.

25. ‘Bald-headed woman… bald-headed woman to me’. Correct lyric: ‘More than a woman… more than a woman to me’ from the Bee Gees’ ‘More than a woman’.

26. ‘I remove umbilicals’. Correct lyric: ‘I believe in miracles’ from Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’.

27. ‘We’re caught in a trout’. Correct lyric: ‘We’re caught in a trap’ from Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’

28. ‘I’m Terry Wogan’. Correct lyric: ‘I’m every woman’ from Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m every woman’.

29. ‘Let me just staple the vicar’. Correct lyric: ‘Just let me state for the record’ from Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’.

30. ‘This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus’. Correct lyric: ‘This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius’ from Fifth Dimension’s ‘Aquarius’.

31. ‘You’re the wobbly one’. Correct lyric: ‘You’re the one that I want’ from John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John’s ‘One that I want’.

32. ‘Don’t go Jason Waterfalls’. Correct lyric: ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls’ from TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’.

33. ‘A year has passed since I broke my nose’. Correct lyric: ‘A year has passed since I wrote my note’ from The Police’s ‘Message In A Bottle’.

34. ‘Kick a chicken with it’. Correct lyric: ‘Gettin’ jiggy with it’ from Will Smith’s ‘Gettin’ jiggy with it’.

35. ‘Hold me closer, Tony Danza’. Correct lyric: ‘Hold me closer, tiny dancer’ from Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’.

36. ‘Take your teeth out, tell me what’s wrong’. Correct lyric: ‘Chiquitita, tell me what’s wrong’ from Abba’s ‘Chiquitita’.

37. ‘I like big butts in a can of limes’. Correct lyric: ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’.

38. ‘We’re working for peanuts’. Correct lyric: ‘We’re heading for Venus’ from Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’.

39. ‘I just died in your barn tonight, mustard no mayonnaise instead’. Correct lyric: ‘I just died in your arms tonight, It must have been something you said’ from Cutting Crew’s ‘I just died in your arms tonight’.

40. ‘Aww freak cow! Le freak, c’est sheep’. Correct lyric: ‘Aww freak out! Le freak, c’est Chic’ from Chic’s ‘Le Freak’.

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