Monday 14 November 2011


Legend has it that writer Sylvia Wright misheard the lyrics to "The Bonny Earl of Murray" when she was a child. The actual lyrics are "Thou have slain the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green", but what she heard was "Thou have slain the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen". And the mondegreen was born.

Fortunately, these aren't limited to songs ("'Scuse me while I kiss this guy"). Medical mondegreens abound. Some like Old Timers' Disease (Alzheimer's) are quite descriptive, but wrong nonetheless.

Yesterday a patient told me that his legs always swelled because of his very close veins (varicose veins).

Another patient came to my office complaining of pain at her biblical hernia (umbilical). Fortunately the fireballs in her eucharist (fibroids in her uterus) didn't bother her.

Some are a bit harder to decipher. It took me a good 5 minutes to figure out that the lady with "65 roses" actually had cystic fibrosis. And the little girl with Smilin' Mighty Jesus really was suffering from spinal meningitis.


  1. The little girl -- had she been listening to Ween?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


  4. 65 roses is actually a common nickname for CF, and some children are taught to say it tat way, because it is supposedly 'easier' to say and remember. There's even a children's book about CF that has the title 'Mallory's 65 Roses'.

  5. I once had a mother tell me "He has a conductive virus. It's in his eyes and everything." Um...conjunctivitis????

  6. Sick as hell disease

    (sickle cell) :)


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