Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 17:11:16 -0400 From: Jesse T Sheidlower Subject: Re: biff > > On my American English class's listserv, a student wrote: > > "As Dr. Bergdahl was talking about words that people biff, such as > Pulitzer Surprise, one such word came to my mind. Actually, I almost > biffed it when I was typing it in a friend's e-mail message today. The > word is this morning, but for some reason, in my head, I couldn't think > how to spell it because I was thinking of this smorning, which is how it > sounds when you say it. As a result, I almost typed it in like that. I > had to think twice before I typed it in and then realized it was this > morning. I was wondering if anyone else out there has the same problem as > I with certain words. Respond back if you do." > > I'd never met "biff" before: anyone else familiar with it? The reference > is to Pinker's discussion of what we on this list have been calling > Mondegreens. Pamela Munro's 1989 _U.C.L.A. Slang_ has an entry for _biff_ 'fail (an examination)', which I suspect is simply an overly specific definition. The word must mean 'screw up', broadly. I've heard a few other examples. Jesse Sheidlower Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang