aesthetic for ascetic He is an aesthetic. He withdraws from the world. Manil Suri, author of Lord Shiva, Guardian Mar 3 08 (aesthetics is the science of beauty; an ascetic is self-denying)
alumni for luminaries Rare, candid photos of Ballard and other SF alumni (Brunner, Aldiss, Wyndham) from Vogue, 1962: @ballardian (alumni are pupils; luminaries are "leading lights")
anxiogenic for anxiolytic = wiki on Leonora Carrington (anxiogenic drugs would have made her /more/ anxious)
au natural for au naturel
benefactor for beneficiary, recipient Apparently he used to pay his escalating grocery tab in paintings. One day the benefactor of these priceless works argued with her family and set fire to the lot. Sophie Morris FT Sept 24 2010 (straight meaning swap like famous/infamous, ancestor/descendant)
bi-election for by-election
camoflague for camouflage
chic lit for chick lit
colonialism for snobbery? Hierarchical class structure? It is 40 years since I first struggled into the wing-collar of Captain James Bellamy of 165 Eaton Place. I didn’t like him at first; I’d seen too much of his sort at Harrow. I wasn’t that keen on the show, either – it seemed to be cherishing a colonialism we had all managed to shed in the haze of the Sixties. Simon Williams on Upstairs Downstairs.
constant widening of the moral compass (letter to Times, Mar 2011) A compass is a thing that points north, and a moral compass would show you the way to go. He means something like “blurring boundaries”, or “widening of the moral grey areas”. Does he think a moral compass looks like the thing you find in a geometry set?
Customers love our bras – even those who have had a vasectomy. PR blurb quoted in Times 25 June 2011-06-25
deep-seeded for deep-seated
dire straights for dire straits
duffer for buffer “that tremendous old duffer Arthur Negus” Sarah Vine T March 16, 2011 (a duffer is an idiot, an old buffer is an old chap)
eastuary for estuary: the south east where vile and cheap eastury English predominates Bbc message board (We speak Estuary English here in the Thames Estuary.)
exacerbated for exasperated: made worse/annoyed – the same thing happened with “aggravated”
exhume for exude: Located in France this lovingly renovated 300-year-old home exhumes character and quirkyness. exude = give out; exhume = unbury
exposay for exposé
flush for redolent: a celebration “flush with nationalism” Guardian February 4, 2011 “Flush with” means level with; if you're "flush with cash" you've got lots of it.
golabole for gullible (Daily Mail commenter – like it)
hallow for fallow: Ryugyong Hotel is a 105-story skyscraper in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea renowned for once being dubbed the “World’s Worst Building” after having remained hallow for over 20 years. all-that-is-interesting.com (Think they mean “lain fallow”, like an unploughed field.)
hub for jumping-off point A spokesman for holiday firm Natural Retreats said: “People tend to come and visit but there’s nothing to keep them there, even though the area has everything from wildlife to history and is a potential hub from which to go north and visit the islands.” bdonline.com
incentiary, reeking havoc, hare’s breath escape, plaintiff melody, viscous/vicious, causal/casual, clamoured to her feet, a shutter went through her body, his body went ridged, empirical storm troopers, ex-patriot Englishmen, et cetera. Teresa Nielsen Hayden via rgadsen@cix (that’s incendiary, wreaking havoc, hair’s breadth escape, plaintive melody, clambered, shudder, rigid, imperial storm troopers, expatriate Englishmen)
incipient for rife: incipient means potential, or about to happen; something that’s rife is everywhere
increasingly ubiquitous: ubiquitous means “everywhere” – another “rather unique”
incredible for incredulous: Another straight swap. Something incredible is unbelievable; I am incredulous – I don’t believe it.
infamous for famous: Farls are also very popular fried in bacon fat and served as part of the infamous Irish breakfast. allrecipes.com (Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!)
jolie-laird for jolie laide (pretty/ugly A laird is a Scottish lord.) Murray has a touch of the jolie-laird about her, here's she's more laird. (imdb)
languish for wander, meander or ramble: It is just one part of the pretty Lee Valley Park, which languishes for a full 26 miles along the banks of the River. hackneyhomemade.com If you languish you droop wearily, wait resignedly (he languished in prison for years), or pine away.
Last night I dreamed I went to Manderlay again… (the Cornish house was Manderley, the place the British soldier wanted to return to was Mandalay)
law for lore weird law Guardian April 28 2007 (statute/folk wisdom)
lesser-spotted for rarely seen (retiring Kate Middleton is the lesser spotted Kate, ditto Gordon Brown). There are two types of spotted woodpecker, the greater and the lesser. They both have spots - it’s got nothing to do with rarity.
low and behold for lo and behold
mange e toi for ménage a trois (three-way marriage)
Mid-Evil for Medieval (from the Middle Ages)
nearly penultimate (Another "rather unique".)
nmeonics for mnemonics (nice try)
object lesson for deterrent example (Why is there no easy way of saying this?)
panoply for pantheon: the addition of raisins, spices, jam and later syrup lifted the dumpling into the panoply of puddings. (A pantheon is where all the gods live – bit like a hall of fame.)
Ponzi scheme for pyramid scheme (In a Ponzi scheme you get everybody to invest in a scheme, then pay them "dividends" from the money you get out of new investors.)
prickly question for thorny (questions are thorny, awkward people are prickly, like a hedgehog or porcupine)
quixotic for ???? Judge Pickles called the Lord Chancellor a “brooding Quixotic dictator” - what did he think it meant?
reiterate means repeat, not stress
sacarter for cicada (Web)
seeped in for steeped in
shirk from for shrink from (shirkers avoid work)
shrink for fall Troop levels will shrink by 6%. BBC News channel (a level can only rise or fall)
social morays for social mores (but that's how you pronounce it)
Stongehenge for Stonehenge
strident for ????? views of what the island would look like if crisscrossed not by its grid, but by Paris’s medieval streets and strident boulevards. (Perhaps a strident boulevard is one you stride along.)
tithe cottage for tied cottage Guardian mag Sat 18 June 2011 (a tied cottage comes with the job; a tithe is a tenth of your income that you give to the church)
toothsome for tooth-shaped You can see the Matterhorn, or Monte Cervino as they call it on the Italian side, in all its toothsome, Toblerone-shaped glory Rhiannon Batten Indy on Sunday May 22 2011 Toothsome means tasty – she means toothlike or tooth-shaped.
unequivocably for unequivocally (confusion with irrevocably)
winnow for burrow (winnowing his way into her life), winnowing for eroding (or filleting) When you winnow grain, you throw it into the air so that the wind can blow the chaff away.
More here, here, here, here and here.