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malapropism (MAL-uh-prop-iz-ehm) noun

1. The humorous misuse of a word by confusing it with a similar-sounding word.

2. An instance of such misuse.

[After Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan's play, The Rivals, who confused words this way.]

"For younger readers: Norm Crosby was a semi-celebrated stand-up comic in the '60s whose gimmick was the malapropism, or the confusing of similar-sounding words and phrases, often with amusing effect. Examples include saying held hostile instead of held hostage, complaining about being pillared in the press when you mean pilloried, and telling school kids that to succeed, 'You've got to preserve', when the word you had in mind was persevere.
"These particular examples are, as it happens, all actual malapropisms enunciated by candidate Bush, who has also confused subscribe with ascribe, gist with grist, and vile with either vital or viable, depending on how you read a call for 'an economically vile hemisphere.'"
Bob Wieder; A Guide to Bushspeak; The San Francisco Chronicle; Sep 10, 2000.

This week's theme: words from AWAD archives.


Walking is also an ambulation of mind. -Gretel Ehrlich, novelist, poet, and essayist (1946- )

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