May 22, 2011
- malapropism (noun)
- What does it mean?
- : a usually humorous misuse of a word
- How do you use it?
- Everyone laughed at Joey's malapropism when he told his mother she had gotten a phone call from someone, but he couldn't "dismember" the caller.
- Are you a word wiz?
"Malapropism" is a pretty funny-sounding word. Where do you think it originated?We like the character of answer B. Irish-born playwright Richard Sheridan often gave the characters in his plays names that fit their personalities. In his 1775 comedy The Rivals, he introduced us to Mrs. Malaprop, a woman who loved to talk, but who constantly made mistakes when she did. For instance, when she meant to say "the geography of contiguous countries," she would actually say "the geometry of contagious countries." Sheridan based Mrs. Malaprop's name on the French word "malapropos," which means "in an inappropriate or inopportune way." After the play became popular, the name "Malaprop" was transformed into a generic term for a verbal blunder.