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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm never quite sure which is correct.

A story with a twist in the tale, or a twist in the tail :-\.
 

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Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
I'm never quite sure which is correct.

A story with a twist in the tale, or a twist in the tail :-\.
A "Tale" is a story. A "tail" is wagged" woof woof! :)

Cheers,
Dave.
 

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Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
That's what I thought it should be, but I've seen both ???.
Phrases like "a twist in the tail" are called eggcorns. They sound a lot like the right thing, and there's a certain reasonableness to them. Stuff like "being on tenderhooks" and "for all intensive purposes" and "in like flint."
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Becca Mills said:
Phrases like "a twist in the tail" are called eggcorns. They sound a lot like the right thing, and there's a certain reasonableness to them. Stuff like "being on tenderhooks" and "for all intensive purposes" and "in like flint."
;D ;D ;D

Thanks. Problem solved.
 

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Personally I think "twist in the tail" has a nice flair to it.  You get to the very end (of the animal, as in the "tail end") and find a twist in the tail that wasn't expected.
 

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Twist in the tail is perfectly acceptable if you're writing about, say, a goat.

--George, with a warp and a woof, I'll now read the twisty yarn of a shaggy dog tail...
 

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I believe the expression is "a twist in the tail," because it means an unexpected ending.

Phrases like "a twist in the tail" are called eggcorns. They sound a lot like the right thing, and there's a certain reasonableness to them. Stuff like "being on tenderhooks" and "for all intensive purposes" and "in like flint."
Like "butt naked," which actually makes more sense than the original "buck naked." But I think you have it backward in this case-- "twist in the tale" is the eggcorn here. It makes perfect sense, but it's not quite the right idiom.
 

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Twist in the Tale is correct, or I should say standard, usage (as in, a surprising twist in the story).

Twist in the Tail is a whimsical play on words, usually indicating some animals will be involved in the story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Vera Nazarian said:
Twist in the Tale is correct, or I should say standard, usage (as in, a surprising twist in the story).

Twist in the Tail is a whimsical play on words, usually indicating some animals will be involved in the story.
My tail is an aeroplane tail ;D I titled the story A Tail of Woe and some 'kind' editor changed it to A Tale of Woe ::) had to put 'tail'
 

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George Berger said:
Twist in the tail is perfectly acceptable if you're writing about, say, a goat.

--George, with a warp and a woof, I'll now read the twisty yarn of a shaggy dog tail...
Tail twists are actually quite common, in pigs.
 

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One of my Amazon UK reviews uses that expression (Twist of the Tail), and I assumed it was a British turn of the phrase.  I enjoyed it, since it loses none of the meaning, and adds a whimsical image to the concept.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
swolf said:
One of my Amazon UK reviews uses that expression (Twist of the Tail), and I assumed it was a British turn of the phrase. I enjoyed it, since it loses none of the meaning, and adds a whimsical image to the concept.
Hence my original confusion :). I've also heard some stories have a double twist and it's called 'another turn of the screw'.
 

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Becca Mills said:
Phrases like "a twist in the tail" are called eggcorns. They sound a lot like the right thing, and there's a certain reasonableness to them. Stuff like "being on tenderhooks" and "for all intensive purposes" and "in like flint."
I've never heard of an eggcorn before and will Google. Does it have an element of corruption of the original saying to it? Because for the examples you used, "being on tenderhooks" comes from "being on tenterhooks." A tenterhook is a kind of old fashioned hook and being on one literally would be uncomfortable, which is what the phrase still means. "For all intensive purposes" is a corruption of "for all intents and purposes," which makes perfect sense. I'm not so sure about the last one, but I always thought it was "in like Flynn" and that Flynn was a character is something well known to most people but not to non-tv and movie types like me.

Whether tales or tails get twisted would seem to me to depend on how the phrase is used. Twisting tails on livestock gets their attention and gets them moving. On a dog or cat it would annoy. Buck naked as used in the American West surely goes back to referring to native men, who didn't wrap themselves in layers of wool like the white guys, as bucks.
 

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ellenoc said:
I've never heard of an eggcorn before and will Google. Does it have an element of corruption of the original saying to it? Because for the examples you used, "being on tenderhooks" comes from "being on tenterhooks." A tenterhook is a kind of old fashioned hook and being on one literally would be uncomfortable, which is what the phrase still means. "For all intensive purposes" is a corruption of "for all intents and purposes," which makes perfect sense. I'm not so sure about the last one, but I always thought it was "in like Flynn" and that Flynn was a character is something well known to most people but not to non-tv and movie types like me.
Yes, right. An eggcorn is a misunderstand word or phrase that's entered common usage. "For all intents and purposes" --> "for all intensive purposes," etc. Embarrassingly, I think I was 17 or 18 before I realized the correct phrase actually wasn't "for all intensive purposes." "Eggcorn" is itself an eggcorn (for "acorn"). There are dozens of them out there. I think the "Flynn" in "in like Flynn" is Errol Flynn, but maybe that's not really true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Becca Mills said:
Yes, right. An eggcorn is a misunderstand word or phrase that's entered common usage. "For all intents and purposes" --> "for all intensive purposes," etc. Embarrassingly, I think I was 17 or 18 before I realized the correct phrase actually wasn't "for all intensive purposes." "Eggcorn" is itself an eggcorn (for "acorn"). There are dozens of them out there. I think the "Flynn" in "in like Flynn" is Errol Flynn, but maybe that's not really true.
There was a film titled "In like Flint' starring James Coburn. I think that was a parody of 'In like Flynn' - Errol Flynn.
 

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I've never heard of an eggcorn before and will Google. Does it have an element of corruption of the original saying to it? Because for the examples you used, "being on tenderhooks" comes from "being on tenterhooks." A tenterhook is a kind of old fashioned hook and being on one literally would be uncomfortable, which is what the phrase still means. "For all intensive purposes" is a corruption of "for all intents and purposes," which makes perfect sense. I'm not so sure about the last one, but I always thought it was "in like Flynn" and that Flynn was a character is something well known to most people but not to non-tv and movie types like me.

Whether tales or tails get twisted would seem to me to depend on how the phrase is used. Twisting tails on livestock gets their attention and gets them moving. On a dog or cat it would annoy. Buck naked as used in the American West surely goes back to referring to native men, who didn't wrap themselves in layers of wool like the white guys, as bucks.
In like Flynn is a reference to the much reputed 'swordsmanship' of the legendarily endowed Australian-born actor, Errol Flynn. It refers to his success with the ladies and is thus usually uttered with a nudge and a snicker and not used in the boardroom or at tea with the vicar. In like Flynt could of course be a modernised reference alluding to porn publisher Larry Flynt, but since it´s spelled FLINT I'm pretty sure it is actually just a mistake.
 

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I publish under Scorpion as my publishing name, below that I have my scorpion logo. Below that I use the phrase. "Thrillers with a sting in the tale."

I wouldn't change it to tail even though scorpions have stings in their tails because I am referring to the stories.

To my way of thinking reasing your example "A story with a twist in the tale" is just that. Stories are not tails.

Tale
Noun


a fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted.
"a delightful children's tale"

Tail.
Noun

the hindmost part of an animal, especially when prolonged beyond the rest of the body, such as the flexible extension of the backbone in a vertebrate, the feathers at the hind end of a bird, or a terminal appendage in an insect.

I wouldn't say that either your example or my example was an eggcorn.

Eggcorn
Noun

a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one which sounds very similar (e.g. tow the line instead of toe the line

The only way tail could be applicable would be if you added end for the tail end of something.
 
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