Malapropism

   This word entered the English language through the name of a character in The Rivals (1775), a play written by Englishman Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816). The play introduced Mrs. Malaprop, an endearing late-middle-age woman given to confusing similar-sounding words, with hilarious results. The word she used, although sounding somewhat like the the word intended, had a completely different meaning. For example, she described someone "as headstrong as an allegory (alligator) on the banks of the Nile."
   Mrs. Malaprop delivered her lines with such aplomb that her audience responded to her blunders with delight. Among her linguistic blunders: "I would by no means want a daughter of mine to be a progeny (prodigy) of learning;" "Don't attempt to extirpate (exculpate) yourself from this matter;" "He is the very pineapple (pinnacle) of politeness." Such mixups as "supercilious (superficial) knowledge," "contagious (contiguous) countries," and "to illiterate (obliterate) him from your mind" had audiences roaring with laughter. Today, any grotesque misapplication of a word, especially by one resembling it, is a malapropism. Sheridan wrote all his major comedies when he was in his twenties. He then forsook his writings for politics and, as a member of Parliament, was an outstanding talented orator, comparable to England's most distinguished orators, Edmund Burke and Prime Minister William Pitt.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • malapropism — malapropísm s. n. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  MALAPROPÍSM s. n. folosire greşită, substituire a unui cuvânt. (< engl. malapropism) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • malapropism — mal a*prop*ism, n. [From Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Sheridan s drama, The Rivals, who makes amusing blunders in her use of words. See {Malapropos}.] A grotesque misuse of a word; a word so used. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • malapropism — index error, misapplication, misusage Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • malapropism — 1826, from Mrs. Malaprop, character in Sheridan s play The Rivals (1775), noted for her ridiculous misuse of large words (e.g. contagious countries for contiguous countries ), her name coined from MALAPROPOS (Cf. malapropos) …   Etymology dictionary

  • malapropism — (US also malaprop) ► NOUN ▪ the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar sounding one (e.g. ‘dance a flamingo’ instead of flamenco). ORIGIN from the name of the character Mrs Malaprop in Richard Sheridan s play The Rivals (1775) …   English terms dictionary

  • malapropism — [mal′ə präp΄iz΄əm] n. [< MALAPROP Mrs. + ISM] 1. ludicrous misuse of words, esp. through confusion caused by resemblance in sound 2. an instance of this (Ex.: progeny for prodigy) …   English World dictionary

  • Malapropism — A malapropism is an act of misusing or the habitual misuse of similar sounding words, especially with humorous results. An example is Yogi Berra s statement: Texas has a lot of electrical votes, [1] rather than electoral votes . Contents 1… …   Wikipedia

  • malapropism — noun /ˈmæləprɒpɪzəm,ˈmæləprɑːpɪzəm/ a) The blundering use of an absurdly inappropriate word or expression in place of a similar sounding one. The script employed malapropism to great effect. b) An instance of this; malaprop. Malapropism is much… …   Wiktionary

  • malapropism — UK [ˈmæləprɒpˌɪz(ə)m] / US [ˈmæləprɑˌpɪzəm] noun [countable] Word forms malapropism : singular malapropism plural malapropisms a word that is used wrongly but sounds like the word that you should have used, especially one that creates a funny… …   English dictionary

  • malapropism — [19] English owes the word malapropism to Mrs Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals 1775 whose grandiloquent impulses led her to use slightly (but ludicrously) the wrong word: amongst the most familiar of her errors are… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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