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Richard Nordquist

Espy's Malapropism Quiz

By February 15, 2013

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Named after Mrs. Malaprop, a verbally inept character in Richard Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775), a malapropism is the confusion of two words that sound alike. Think of the albacore (instead of albatross) around Tony Soprano's neck, or Archie Bunker's reference to the Salivation Army.

Malapropisms share three traits: (1) the malapropism is always a real word, (2) it's usually unrelated in meaning to the intended word, and (3) both the error and the intended word are phonologically similar.

Also, as long as you're not the one who makes the verbal slip, a malapropism is occasionally funny. . . .

For the complete article (revised and expanded), see What Is a Malapropism? Decapitated Coffee and the Salivation Army.


February 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm
(1) HillRunner says:


Thanks for the heads up on “fortuitously.”

I had no ideal!

February 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm
(2) sudha says:

I look forward to your weekly mails. I enjoyed this. It reminded me of my school days when my English teacher always taught us pairs of words.. easier to remember their meanings, when we use a pair.

Thanks for a good start to the day!

February 19, 2013 at 9:19 am
(3) Ed Iannuccilli says:

I met a gentleman who told me he bought a two bedroom condom by the shore

February 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm
(4) pat says:

my mother-in-law’s comment about a very pregnant lady – “I wonder if she’s been taking those fraternity pills!”

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