Twelfth Night Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is an example of malapropism found in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

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A malapropism is a comic substitution of one word for another or a word mixup that is meant to raise laughs. An example of a malapropism occurs in Twelfth Night in the first act, scene three, when Sir Toby Belch mixes up the words subtractors and detractors. After Maria puts down his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Sir Toby responds:

They are scoundrels and subtractors

That say so of him.

The "s" in subtractors makes for better alliteration but, in fact, people who put other people down are called detractors. Sir Toby drinks too much (Belch is an apt surname) and people who drink tend to mix up their words.

Sir Andrew also engages in malapropisms: he mistakes Sir Toby's meaning when Sir Toby tells his to...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 370 words.)

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