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What are Malaprops?

Updated on March 17, 2011


Mrs Malaprop, a character in in Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals, gave us such gems as, “Oh, there’s nothing to be hoped for from her! She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.” and “If I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!”
Substitute aligator for allegory, apprehend for reprehend, vernacular for oracular, arrangement for derangement, and epithets for epitaphs.
The French phrase mal à propos means inappropriate or ill-suited. The play popularized the term malapropism, and the device is still popular with humorists.
“No his uncle was not a businessman. He was a civil serpent.”
“He was served an erotic dish.”

""Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons." - Constable Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing
“The law I sign today directs new funds and new focus to the task of collecting vital intelligence on terrorist threats and on weapons of mass production”
The last was uttered by George W Bush, a master malaprop or avid acyrologian.
Here’s another of his:
“Anyone engaging in illegal financial transactions will be caught and persecuted.”

Malapropism is also called Dogberryism or Acyrologia, but be careful and don't use these words in a sentence to mean 'defficiency of Vitamin B (beriberi)' or to mean 'fear of heights (acrophobia)'!


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    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      7 years ago from Chennai

      Thanks, Doc! Hope you visited both good and bad parts of Chennai!. :D

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      7 years ago from UK

      Brilliant hub- Kenny - I love malaprops ( we could call them Dogberries, now that I know Shakespeare did them too) - on another note I've just been to Chennai couple of week ago!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      7 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, Hello, hello! :))

      Sure, FCEtier, shall do one on palindromes, too! :))

    • FCEtier profile image


      7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Great! Now do an article on, "bob", "xanax","Madam I'm Adam", "Too hot to hoot." "Was it a car or a cat I saw?"!!! LOL

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for this fascinating and funny hub.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      7 years ago from Chennai

      Haha, DrBj, that's the funniest greeting I have seen in ages! :D

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      A very marry Christmas and a Happy Gnu Ear to you, kenny.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      7 years ago from Chennai

      Dearest Earth Angel,

      Aw, thanks! Hope you get some time for yourself (not just for others) and have great happiness this season and beyond! Merry Christmas! :))

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      7 years ago

      Dearest Kenny!!

      You are just the BEST!!

      Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

      Blessings always, Earth Angel!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      7 years ago from Chennai

      Haha, thanks, Feline! :D

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      7 years ago

      Beriberi interesting! :)


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