Definitions for malapropismˈmæl ə prɒpˌɪz əm

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word malapropism

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

mal•a•prop•ismˈmæl ə prɒpˌɪz əm(n.)

  1. a confused use of words in which an appropriate word is replaced by one with similar sound but ludicrously inappropriate meaning.

    Category: Literature

  2. an instance of this, as in “Lead the way and we'll precede.”

    Category: Literature

Origin of malapropism:

1840–50; after Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Sheridan's The Rivals (1775)

Princeton's WordNet

  1. malapropism, malaprop(noun)

    the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one that sounds similar


  1. malapropism(Noun)

    The blundering use of an absurdly inappropriate word or expression in place of a similar sounding one.

  2. malapropism(Noun)

    An instance of this; malaprop.

  3. Origin: From the name of Mrs. Malaprop, a character in the play The Rivals (1775) by Richard Brinsley Sheridan + -ism. As dramatic characters in English comic plays of this time often had allusive names, it is likely that Sheridan fashioned the name from malapropos. Mrs. Malaprop is perhaps the best-known example of a familiar comedic character archetype who unintentionally substitutes inappropriate but like-sounding words that take on a ludicrous meaning when used incorrectly.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Malapropism(noun)

    a grotesque misuse of a word; a word so used


  1. Malapropism

    A malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance. An example is Yogi Berra's statement: "Texas has a lot of electrical votes," rather than "electoral votes". The word malapropism comes ultimately from the French mal à propos meaning "inappropriate" via "Mrs. Malaprop", a character in the Richard Brinsley Sheridan comedy The Rivals as who habitually misused her words. Dogberryism comes from "Officer Dogberry", the name of a character in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. These are the two best-known fictional characters who made this kind of error—there are many other examples. Malapropisms also occur as errors in natural speech. Malapropisms are often the subject of media attention, especially when made by politicians or other prominent individuals. The philosopher Donald Davidson has noted that malapropisms show how complex the process is by which the brain translates thoughts into language.


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