malapropism

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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!

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)


First Known Use: 1830


MALAPROPISM Defined for English Language Learners

malapropism

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

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



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