Malapropism is the act of using an incorrect word in place of one that is similar in pronunciation. The word comes from a character named Mrs. Malaprop in the play "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Malapropism is also referred to as Dogberryism, named after Officer Dogberry in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." Both characters made these speech errors.
Here are some examples of malapropisms:
- Mrs. Malaprop said, "Illiterate him quite from your memory" (obliterate) and "She's as headstrong as an allegory" (alligator)
- Officer Dogberry said, "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons" (apprehended two suspicious persons)
- Rainy weather can be hard on the sciences. (sinuses)
- Alice said she couldn't eat crabs or any other crushed Asians. (crustaceans)
- I have no delusions to the past. (allusions)
- You could have knocked me over with a fender. (feather)
- You lead the way and we'll precede. (proceed)
- Unfortunately, my affluence over my niece is very small. (influence)
- A rolling stone gathers no moths. (moss)
- Good punctuation means not to be late. (punctuality)
- Having one wife is called monotony. (monogamy)
- The flood damage was so bad they had to evaporate the city. (evacuate)
- Dad says the monster is just a pigment of my imagination. (figment)
- Everybody in the company has their own cuticle. (cubicle)
- Tom is the very pineapple of politeness. (pinnacle)
- I remember because I have photogenic memory. (photographic)
- Flying saucers are just an optical conclusion. (illusion)
Here are some examples of malapropisms made by well-known people:
- "The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder." - Richard Daley, former mayor of Chicago
- "He was a man of great statue." - Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston
- "Texas has a lot of electrical votes." (electoral votes) - Yogi Berra
- "Well, that was a cliff-dweller." (cliff-hanger) - Wes Westrum
- "Be sure and put some of those neutrons on it." (croutons) - Mike Smith
- "It's got lots of installation." (insulation) - Mike Smith speaking about a new coat
- "Create a little dysentery among the ranks." (dissension) - Christopher Moltisanti from "The Sopranos"
- "This is unparalyzed in the state's history." (unparelled) - Gib Lewis, Texas Speaker of the House
These are examples of malapropisms spoken by Archie Bunker in "All in the Family":
- "A witness shall not bear falsies against thy neighbor."
- "The hookeries and massageries…the whole world is turning into a regular Sodom and Glocca Morra."
- "Last will and tentacle…"
- "Patience is a virgin." (virtue)
- "A menstrual show." (minstrel)
- "Buy one of them battery operated transvestite radios."
- "A woman doctor is only good for women's problems…like your groinocology."
- "I ain't a man of carnival instinctuals like you."
- "Irene Lorenzo, Queen of the Women's Lubrication Movement."
- "In her elastic stockings, next to her very close veins."
- "In closing, I'd like to say Molotov!" (Mazel Tov)
These are examples of malapropisms made by former president George W. Bush:
- "It will take time to restore chaos and order."
- "The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production."
- "They have miscalculated me as a leader."
- "I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well."
- "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."
- "We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile."