Malapropisms: getting it (almost) right

I love malapropisms; some of them are very humorous, some are just a bit irritating because they are obviously the result of their users trying to sound posh or eloquent. What is really interesting about them is that, if used often enough by different people, they may well end up displacing the original accepted form.
I’ve collected a number of malapropisms over the years, from the usage of friends, colleagues and strangers, and a few from myself at moments when I’m not properly concentrating. Here are some of my favourites.
Lovely modern tables and chairs with tubercular (tubular) legs
They’ve opened a new bisexual (unisex) hairdresser’s
Kids from depraved (deprived) backgrounds
Partisan (Parmesan) cheese
The doctor said she was obeast (obese)
Some recent ones from UK radio and TV commentators (who ought to know better) include:
Socially diversive (divisive) policies, say what you like with importunity (impunity), sparodic (sporadic) fighting, acrimonial (acrimonious) debates
There is no shortage of them and there never will be; they will continue to provide us with laughter and annoyance in equal measure.

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1 Response to Malapropisms: getting it (almost) right

  1. Miguel says:

    Hi Mike,

    this is not about English, it is about Spanish today. Just in case anyone is interested. There is a popular TV comedy series called “La que se avecina” (it is also about neighbours) where one of the characters, Amador, quite systematically uses malapropisms. The purpose is humorous, it shows the character’s lack of proper education. In all cases, he is always corrected by another ‘more knowledgeable’ character.


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