Language abuse: malapropism

Posted: August 21, 2018 in Humor, Just for fun
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mrs. Malaprop was a character in 1775 comedy by Richard Sheridan who misused words in a way that created unintentional humor.  From her, we get the word “malapropism”, a particularly enjoyable type of humor.


: 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

  • “Jesus healing those leopards” is an example of malapropism.

One of my favorite books of comedy, Richard Lederer’s Anguished English, has a number of examples, a few of which I’m sharing with you today.  You survived Monday; you deserve some good laughs!  And if you enjoy word play and, as Lederer says in his subtitle, “accidental assaults upon our language”, I urge you to get the book immediately!!  You won’t stop laughing for hours.  But beware.  It’s addictive!

  1. Medieval cathedrals were supported by flying buttocks.
  2. He died interstate.
  3. You’re in for a shrewd awakening!
  4. The marriage was consummated at the altar.
  5. She has unmedicated gall.
  6. That needs some thinking about.  Let me go away and regurgitate for a couple of hours.
  7. Growing up and down the lattice were pink and yellow concubines.
  8. In many states, murderers are put to death by electrolysis.
  9. They had to give one of the players artificial insemination.

If you have any favorite examples of malappropriation…er, malapropisms, please share them in your comment.




  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Oh the flying buttocks! What a hoot.

  2. ksbeth says:

    these are so funny

  3. Sherry Felix says:

    I think spelling can be an issue.
    Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

  4. Dan Antion says:

    Wow – remind me not to take up that last sport 🙂

    These are great, Janet. Thanks for starting Tuesday with a chuckle!

  5. macmsue says:

    Great selection, I love them.

  6. brainsnorts says:

    i recall my brother many years ago telling me how in his high school english class was studying poetry by some guy named angelo saxon. also, i prefer the pink concubines. 😉

    • Now if you were actually talking about concubines, pink columbines would be the reverse malapropism. 🤪 Angelo Saxon. Ha! Lederer has mangled history, thanks to students’ tests answered, in the book, too, and some of them are hilarious.

  7. LOL! Those are funny.

    Many years ago when Big Baby Boy was about 8 we were having dinner and something went down He-Man’s wrong pipe. He was coughing and sputtering so, Big Baby Boy said with all seriousness and concern, ” Mom, should we give Dad the Hemlock Manure?” That just made He-Man laugh and cough all the more! It was pretty funny.

  8. marianallen says:

    When #4 Daughter was wee, she thought Tupperware was called Tug-o’-War because it was so hard to get the lids off!

  9. JT Twissel says:

    Love malapropisms. When I was a wee lass I told everyone “my name is Janet Ann To Pee” – my last name was Mckee. I’ve never lived that one down.

  10. dweezer19 says:

    Unmedicated gall! 😂🤣

  11. Professor Irwin Corey springs to mind. Thanks for the chuckles today.

  12. anne leueen says:

    Oh how I loved these. I laughed and laughed right out loud. I am getting this book! Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. de Wets Wild says:

    The last two has me in stitches, Janet – tears rolling down my cheeks as I type this.
    I’m sure execution by electrolysis would count as cruel and unusual punishment, and I would bet that artificially inseminating those overacting soccer players when they fake an injury would quickly put a stop to their theatrics! 😀 😀 😀

    • I think you’re right, especially about the soccer players. 🙂 My husband played rugby, where even when blood is streaming down a players face, play continues as if nothing happened. The writhing in the ground of the soccer players just has us shaking our heads with scorn. But this might work! 🙂

  14. restlessjo says:

    Chuckling. 🙂 🙂 And riveted by the thought of those concubines.

  15. joey says:

    I see it every day. Oy.
    Jesus healing those leopards reminds me of my son asking me about “God and the leopards” — he was five then. Oh, that took some serious pondering to work out!

  16. Oh my god, these are wonderful/terrible! I don’t have any malapropism to share that’s nearly as good, but clearly I need to check out this book to add to my list.

  17. Tim Willow says:

    Don’t forget about the Reverend Spooner!

  18. LOL! These are quite funny! Thanks for sharing more of these Janet.

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