so·​le·​cism ˈsä-lə-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce solecism (audio)
: an ungrammatical combination of words in a sentence
also : a minor blunder in speech
: something deviating from the proper, normal, or accepted order
: a breach of etiquette or decorum
solecistic adjective

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The city of Soloi had a reputation for bad grammar. Located in Cilicia, an ancient coastal nation in Asia Minor, it was populated by Athenian colonists called soloikoi (literally "inhabitants of Soloi"). According to historians, the colonists of Soloi allowed their native Athenian Greek to be corrupted and started using words incorrectly. As a result, soloikos gained a new meaning: "speaking incorrectly." The Greeks used that sense as the basis of soloikismos, meaning "an ungrammatical combination of words." That root, in turn, gave rise to the Latin soloecismus, the direct ancestor of the English word solecism. Nowadays, solecism can refer to social blunders as well as sloppy syntax.

Examples of solecism in a Sentence

the solecism of asking one's hosts how much something in their house cost them
Recent Examples on the Web The result is global English but one without the imprecision and solecism implied by that label. Colin Marshall, The New Yorker, 8 Dec. 2022 And a single word couldn’t be a dead giveaway either, no matter how much people would like to portray the use of pled rather than pleaded as an obvious Trumpian solecism, especially when Dowd himself has been documented using pled at least once. Ben Zimmer, The Atlantic, 8 Dec. 2017 But the songwriter Tony Hatch has said he was inspired by Times Square—a solecism forgivable from a Brit. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 13 Feb. 2017 Solecism slipped into solipsism into full-blown narcissistic projection. Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker, 26 Jan. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'solecism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin soloecismus, from Greek soloikismos, from soloikos speaking incorrectly, literally, inhabitant of Soloi, from Soloi, city in ancient Cilicia where a substandard form of Attic was spoken

First Known Use

circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of solecism was circa 1555


Dictionary Entries Near solecism

Cite this Entry

“Solecism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


so·​le·​cism ˈsäl-ə-ˌsiz-əm How to pronounce solecism (audio)
: an ungrammatical combination of words in a sentence
: a social blunder
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