nonfiction · Word Fun

Fun With Words ~~~ Malapropisms


You are probably asking….’Jackie, what the hell is a Malapropism?’

Well, I’m here to answer that burning question! Ok, I got the answer from the internet. You didn’t really think I knew this, did you? I learn then I pass that knowledge on to you.

We all know that when someone misuses a word, the result can induce hysterics unless of course, it is we who have made the blunder, in which case embarrassment it the more likely effect. When an incorrect word is used like this, a malapropism is born.

For example:

  • He had to use a fire distinguisher.
  • Dad says the monster is just a pigment of my imagination.
  • Isn’t that an expensive pendulum round that man’s neck?
  • Good punctuation means not to be late.
  • He’s a wolf in cheap clothing.
  • Michelangelo painted the Sixteenth Chapel.
  • My sister has extra-century perception.

How did these mixed up sentences get to be named Malapropisms? Again, I’m here to explain.

In his 1775 Restoration comedy, The Rivals, Richard Sheridan introduced a humorous character by the name of Mrs. Malaprop. The name is derived from the French mal à propos, which means inappropriate (we also have the word malapropos in English), and describes the manner in which she used many words in her speech. The self-educated Mrs. Malaprop was always substituting a similar-sounding word for the word that she actually intended, often with the consequence of a hilariously nonsensical sentence. The name Malaprop has been immortalized in the form of the malapropism, any sentence in which one word has been used incorrectly in place of another.



They are also known as Bushisms as George W. Bush was famous for his misuse of words. In Britain they are often called Colemanballs, the name was coined by Private Eye magazine and is derived from David Coleman, a BBC sports commentator particularly prone to such slips.

Here are some more examples of malapropisms from some famous people.

  • “It is beyond my apprehension.”
       Danny Ozark, baseball team manager
  • “Listen to the blabbing brook.”
       Norm Crosby
  • “This is unparalyzed in the state’s history.”
       Gib Lewis, Texas Speaker of the House
  • “She’s really tough; she’s remorseful.”
       David Moorcroft
  • “And then he [Mike Tyson] will have only channel vision.”
       Frank Bruno, boxer
  • “Cardial – as in cardial arrest.”
       Eve Pollard
  • “Unless somebody can pull a miracle out of the fire, Somerset are cruising into the semi-final.”
       Fred Trueman
  • “We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.”
       George W. Bush
  • “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.”
       Richard Daley, former Chicago mayor
  • “He was a man of great statue.”
       Thomas Menino, Boston mayor
  • “Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”
       Dan Quayle, Vice President
  • “Well, that was a cliff-dweller.”
       Wes Westrum, about a close baseball game

Well, I don’t know about you but I think I’ve learned enough for one day. See you next time!



*quotes used from here…




15 thoughts on “Fun With Words ~~~ Malapropisms

  1. It makes me cringe when people use the wrong word but I tend to do it now and then. When I do I get laughed at terrible because I point others when they do all the time.


    1. I do it sometimes when I talk to fast. 😉 But I think we all do it at times. Just be glad we aren’t famous (yet) so it doesn’t go on some meme. lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to come back to this. Interruptions a plenty today. Very interesting. I’ve heard words misused on occasion but these examples make me laugh. As we get older, sometimes the word we want doesn’t show up properly but young people have only ignorance as an excuse. But it’s stuff like that that makes life a bit funny.


      1. I’m pretty slow with words these days which gives me plenty of time to use the right one. Once the flow of words starts, I sometimes have trouble talking too much. ;(


        1. Never….I can’t believe you talk to much. 🙂 I don’t see that many people so I can’t say I talk to much. Never was very talkative anyway. I could easily become a hermit. lol

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t misuse words very often, but I hate when I mispronounce a word.

    This is a good idea for a book … have a character afflicted with malapropism-itis. In my next book, I was going to have Mama or Pepper (probably Pepper) try to elevate their vocabulary. I could see either of them slipping into malapropisms. 🙂


    1. Ha! Oh, I could see one of them slipping into that myself. That would be so funny! I hate when I mispronounce a word too, but I do it sometimes and it irritates me. 😉


  4. Loved Sheridan’s The Rivals the last time I saw it. Hilarious. Children are a great source of malapropisms (My daughter used to sing Lasagna, lasagna for hosannas in church) and then there was Yogi Berra….


  5. Thanks for this new knowledge, Jackie! Some of these made me laugh! I am sure I’ve used words thinking I know what they mean, while in actuality they mean something completely different…or pronounced words wrongly. I remember my friends laughing at me when we first moved here when I said I want a ‘steek’ instead of ‘steak’ for dinner. That went on quite a while. But I’ve learned to laugh at myself 🙂


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