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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: 1849
MALAPROPISM Defined for English Language Learners
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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