A to Z Challenge – M is for Malapropisms

I learnt about malapropisms at school but I do not remember being told then that they are also referred to as dogberryisms. This use of an incorrect word instead of a word that sounds similar is generally an error on the part of the speaker but is occasionally an intentional substitution.

Malapropisms appeared in several works before Richard Sheridan created the character of Mrs. Malaprop in his 1775  comedy play The Rivals. The alternative name of Dogberryisms comes from Shakespeare’s Constable Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing;  this character announces that his watch comprehended two auspicious persons when he should have said they had  apprehended two suspicious persons.   

The word “malapropism” comes from the French “mal à propos” meaning “inappropriate” and one of Mrs Malaprop’s best known mistakes is to use illiterate  instead of  obliterate.

The Beatles song titles  Tomorrow Never Knows and A Hard Days Night  are said to originate from Ringo Starr’s malapropisms which were referred to as “Ringoisms.” 

The former Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley,  made the startling announcement that “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.”

The magazine New Scientist reported an instance of someone  substituting the word malapropism itself with “Miss-Marple-ism”  and I think this is my favourite .

 

3 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – M is for Malapropisms

    • Hi Tara, I love prisms too. Glad you like Garage Band; I end up laughing a lot when I use it.
      I’ve just left a comment on your blog; I think this is the first time a blogspot site has accepted my wordpress details and let me leave a comment but it still showed me as “Anonymous.” Wish they would all play nicely together.

  1. Pingback: Ten More Words We Got from Literature | interesting literature | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

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