Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for May 17, 2020 is:

malapropism • MAL-uh-prah-piz-um  • noun

: the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase; especially : the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context


“A malapropism is using the wrong word, but one that sounds similar to the right word—like saying that medieval cathedrals are supported by flying buttocks. A good malapropism can throw you off, so that you scrape your head trying to figure out the error, and then having to think what the word should have been. (It’s flying buttresses, by the way).” — Britt Hanson, The Tuscon (Arizona) Weekly, 3 July 2014

“[Gilda Radner] brought a lot of charm and energy as a player [on Saturday Night Live]; from her impressions of Lucille Ball … to her unforgettable characters like … the malapropism-prone Emily Litella, the geeky Lisa Loopner and the letter-reading Roseanne Roseannadanna.” — Paolo Alfar, Screen Rant, 10 Mar. 2020

Did you know?

Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rivals, was known for her verbal blunders. “He is the very pine-apple of politeness,” she exclaimed, complimenting a courteous young man. Thinking of the geography of contiguous countries, she spoke of the “geometry” of “contagious countries,” and she hoped that her daughter might “reprehend” the true meaning of what she was saying. She regretted that her “affluence” over her niece was small. The word malapropism derives from this blundering character’s name, which Sheridan took from the French term mal à propos, meaning “inappropriate.”

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