However, I have actually noticed that a huge portion (ok, all) of mine American university students that the critical 5 year erroneously think that this phrase is rather "dead together a doorknob."

I assume this can be due to the reasonably infrequent usage of the word/phrase door-nail in typical speech, specifically when contrasted to "doorknob" (e.g., see here, here, or here).

You are watching: Dead as a doornail or doorknob

In fact, many of my students room unsure what a door-nail is (though countless can guess).

I assume that if my students represent a wider trend, over there is a opportunity that the idiom can actually permanently "change" from using doornail to doorknob in the not so far-off future.

My question: Is there a native or expression to define an instance in which an idiom actually changes due to a change in usual (mis)usage?

single-word-requests idioms grammars errors
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A malapropism is

the generally unintentionally feeling misuse or distortion the a indigenous or phrase; especially : the usage of a word sounding somewhat prefer the one intended yet ludicrously wrong in the context. “Jesus healing those leopards” is an instance of malapropism.

Perhaps the OP is trying to find the malapropism that a word in ~ an idiom, such as "for all extensive purposes" or "it"s a mute point." (Should it is in "for all intents and purposes" and "it"s a moot point.")

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