Mondegreen! That’s the official term for a misheard phrase or lyric. Such a thing can also be called an “aural malapropism,” or so I read, but that sounds like a term your doctor would use to describe a lump in your ear canal.
Mondegreen not only sounds better, but it is that which it describes. As the story goes, the writer Sylvia Wright, as a child, misunderstood the lyrics of “The Bonny Earl of Murray,” hearing “Lady Mondegreen” instead of “laid him on the green.” She wrote about this phenomenon in an article and the word seems to have stuck.
Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands,
Oh, where haw ye been?
They hae slay the Earl of Murray,
And laid him on the green.
Tough luck for the Earl of Murray, but the Lady Mondegreen avoids the slayage by virtue of her nonexistence.
My Faithful Reader asked me for more mondegreens and I wish I had some good ones. Right now, all I have is a rather sad Bon Jovi example. You know that song “Living on a Prayer”? Of course you do. I always thought the lyrics said,
“Take my hand and we’ll make it out square.”
I always wondered what that meant exactly, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized the lyrics actually say,
“Take my hand and we’ll make it, I swear.”
There will be more mondegreens later, I swear.