Monday, September 2, 2013


A malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similiar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous way, such as "He didn’t know whether it was a grease or electrical fire, so he had to use a fire distinguisher." or "My art teacher says the monster in my painting is just a pigment of my imagination."  The word "malapropism comes from the French "mal a propos" meaning "inappropriate", & was personified by Richard Sheridan in his comedy, "The Rivals" (1775) as Mrs. Malaprop, a character who habitually misused her words.  Malapropisms have been known to be used by politicians:

"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother & a child." Dan Quayle

"The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder."  Richard Daley, former Chicago mayor
He has also referred to a tandem bicycle as a "tantrum bicycle" and made mention of "Alcoholics Unanimous".

"This is unparalyzed in the state's history."  Gib Lewis, Texas Speaker of the House

And then there are Bushisms:

"Oftentimes, we live in a processed world, you know, people focus on the process and not results."

"The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production."

"It will take time to restore chaos and order."

"They have miscalculated me as a leader."

"I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well."

"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."

Archie Bunker, fromAll in the Family is also known for malapropisms. He called Orthodox Jews “off the docks Jews” & referred to the Women's Liberation Movement as the “Women’s Lubrication Movement”.  Some of his others:

"A witness shall not bear falsies against thy neighbor."

"The hookeries and massageries…the whole world is turning into a regular Sodom and Glocca Morra."

"Last will and tentacle…"

"Patience is a virgin."

"In her elastic stockings, next to her very close veins."

"Buy one of them battery operated transvestite radios."

"A woman doctor is only good for women’s problems…like your groinocology."

It was reported in New Scientist that an office worker had described a colleague as "a vast suppository of information".  The worker then apologized for his "Miss-Marple-ism" (i.e. malapropism).  New Scientist noted this as possibly the first time anyone had uttered a malapropism for the word malapropism itself.

A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning. It most commonly is applied to a line in a poem or a lyric in a song.  The first lines below are the mondegreen, the next are the real lyrics.

“Let me drown in your bathtub”
  “Let me drown in your laughter”
  Annie’s Song, John Denver

"Gladly, the cross-eyed bear."
  "Gladly The Cross I'd Bear." 

"Dead ants are my friends; they're blowin' in the wind."
   "The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind."
   Blowin' In The Wind, Bob Dylan

"Midnight after you're wasted."
   "Midnight at the oasis."
   Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur

"The girl with colitis goes by."
   "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes."
   Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Beatles

"Hope the city voted for you."
   "Hopelessly devoted to you."
   Hopelessly Devoted to You, Grease

Listen to some more mondegreens HERE!!

A spoonerism is an error in speech in which corresponding vowels or consonants are switched.  It is named for W. A. Spooner (1844-1930), an English clergyman noted for such slips.  What he was trying to say often came out “bass ackwards”!

"Three cheers for our queer old dean!" (dear old queen, referring to Queen Victoria)

"Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?"

I've been listening to a really weird audiobook.  It begins with an aardvark and near the end zebras are playing the xylophone. It’s called “Under a Bridge with Dick and Harry”. (Never mind, my husband just told me it was the unabridged dictionary.  I've got to get my hearing aids adjusted!)----fishducky

PS--I can't believe it.  I've been posting just over a year & by this last weekend I'd had over 55,555 pageviews.  (Make that 55, 930 as of last night.)  Yay, me!!


  1. Well done Fran!!!
    I'm surprised you left out that famous comedian whose whole act was malapropos:

    Norm Cosby! His brother Bill was also pretty funny.

    1. I never liked Norm Cosby. For some reason, he bugged me. His brother, Bill (the one with the tan) was VERY funny, though!!

  2. Congratulations on all of those pageviews. Quite an accomplishment. Take care.

  3. From Melynda: I do the music thing all the time!

  4. Yay, you! I don't want anything to do with my children and their bondage. Sometimes I miss George W. Bush, but only because of the weird stuff he said.


  5. I meant to say "shorts" instead I said "shots". That confused my sister in law who was a new comer in our family. My brother had to explain to her that what I meant was if she packed a pair of shorts in case it gets hot. I felt awkward.

    1. And then there are those of us special few whom NEVER make enny kind of miss steak!!

  6. Congrats on the year and all those page views. That is what you get for being funny and interesting.
    Poor ole Dan Quayle and GW. They were always murdering the language and making us proud.

    1. I know a lot of comedians were sad to see them go!!

  7. Ha, reseeded hairline! that is the kind of thing that amuses me in my present mood. :)

  8. Thank you, I now know what malapropisms are, I've learned something, don't know what good it will do me, but I learned something.
    I've suffered from mondegreens all my life, my hearing is not what it should be, so I always got song lyrics wrong until I actually read them somewhere, then the song made much more sense. Unfortunately being laughed at for singing the wrong words put a bit of a damper on my singing out loud and even now I can't do it unless I'm 100% positive no one can hear me.
    Spoonerisms is something I love. Haven't heard any for a while, but my first husband's family were masters at this method of conversation, they'd do it on purpose and crack everybody up.

    1. I'll be posting another "Language Class" on 9/13. I feel it's important to educate my readers!!

  9. Dear Fran, congratulations on all those page views. I don't have nearly as many, partly I think because I stopped posting three times a week after I'd done so for about six months. I just couldn't keep up with it. You have much more energy than I do!!!

    I apologize for not getting to your blog three times last week. I find myself caught up either in working to find an agent or in dealing with Meniere's headaches. And when I'm not doing either, I seem to be resting a lot! Peace.

    1. Life goes on even without my blog, but it's not nearly as much fun!!

  10. Those are hilarious!! Hard to pick a favorite! Besides, it's time for me to go listen to my transvestite radio...


Your comments make my day, which shows you how boring my life has become.