What is the definition of malapropism?
The definition of malapropism is the substitution of a similar-sounding with or phrase in the place of the proper one.
Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 148
A malapropism, or a Dogberryism, is when someone uses an incorrect, but similar-sounding word in the place of the correct word, often to humorous effect. In fiction, the use of a malapropism often shows a character to be poorly educated and/or lower class. The term malapropism comes from the 1775 play, “The Rivals” by Richard Sheridan wherein a Mrs. Malaprop often says wrong, but similar-sounding words to what she means. For instance: “Sure if I reprehend any thing in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs,” (Act 3 Scene III). Malaprop comes from the French-derived word “malapropos” meaning inappropriate.
Writing an essay?
Get a custom outline
Our Essay Lab can help you tackle any essay assignment within seconds, whether you’re studying Macbeth or the American Revolution. Try it today!
- “You have hissed the mystery lectures,” when someone, “you have missed the history lectures.”
- This is not a malapropism, but a spoonerism. A spoonerism is when the initial sounds of two words are switched.
Explore all literary terms.