malapropism

play
noun mal·a·prop·ism \ˈma-lə-ˌprä-ˌpi-zəm\

Definition of malapropism

  1. 1 :  the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase; especially :  the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context “Jesus healing those leopards” is an example of malapropism.

  2. 2 :  malaprop

malapropist

play \-ˌprä-pist\ noun

malapropism was our Word of the Day on 11/02/2014. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of malapropism from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'malapropism'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan's 1775 play The Rivals, was known for her verbal blunders. "He is the very pine-apple of politeness," she exclaimed, complimenting a courteous young man. Thinking of the geography of contiguous countries, she spoke of the "geometry" of "contagious countries," and she hoped that her daughter might "reprehend" the true meaning of what she was saying. She regretted that her "affluence" over her niece was small. The word malapropism derives from this blundering character's name, which Sheridan took from the French term mal à propos, meaning "inappropriate."

Origin and Etymology of malapropism

Mrs. Malaprop, character noted for her misuse of words in R. B. Sheridan's comedy The Rivals (1775)


MALAPROPISM Defined for English Language Learners

malapropism

play
noun

Definition of malapropism for English Language Learners

  • : an amusing error that occurs when a person mistakenly uses a word that sounds like another word but that has a very different meaning



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up malapropism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a severe test

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!