Malapropism

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A malapropism (also called a Dogberryism or acyrologia) is the substitution of a word for a word with a similar sound, in which the resulting phrase makes no sense but often creates a comic effect. It is not the same as an eggcorn, which is a similar substitution in which the new phrase makes sense on some level. Occasionally a phrase, rather than a single word, replaces the original word, for example Stan Laurel said "What a terrible cat's after me!" (i.e., catastrophe) in Any Old Port![citation needed].

Contents

Etymology

The word malapropos is an adjective or adverb meaning "inappropriate" or "inappropriately", derived from the French phrase mal à propos (literally "ill-suited").[1] The earliest English usage of the word cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1630. Malaprop used in the linguistic sense was first used by Lord Byron in 1814 according to the OED.

The terms malapropism and the earlier variant malaprop come from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1775 play The Rivals, and in particular the character Mrs. Malaprop. Sheridan presumably named his character Mrs. Malaprop, who frequently misspoke (to great comic effect), in joking reference to the word malapropos.

The alternative term "Dogberryism" comes from the 1598 Shakespearean play Much Ado About Nothing, in which the character Dogberry produces many malapropisms with humorous effect.[2]

Distinguishing features

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