What is Malapropism in Literature

What is Malapropism in Literature

Malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance. Malapropism is also known as Dogberryism or Cramtonism.  The term malapropism comes from the character of Mrs. Malaprop in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rival.  Sheridan has created the name of Mrs. Malaprop from French mal a propos meaning inappropriate. The term Dogberryism, which is a synonym of malapropism, is also derived from a character name; it is derived from the character of Dogberry from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Common Examples of Malapropism

A malapropism is a commonly noted phenomenon in our day to day life. Many people tend to use incorrect words in place of similar sounding words, and some hilarious examples can be thus noted.

“I’m going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there’s an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened.” – George Bush 

(authoritarian – authoritative)

“He was a man of great statue.”—Thomas Menino

(statue – stature)

“I’m fading into Bolivian.”—Mike Tyson 

(Bolivian – oblivion)

“The police are not here to create disorder; they’re here to preserve disorder.” – Richard Daley

(Disorder – order)

“And then he [Mike Tyson] will have only channel vision.” –  Frank Bruno,

(channel – tunnel)

This is unanalyzed in the state’s history.”- Gib Lewis

(unanalyzed – unparallel)

“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”Dan Quayle

(bondage – bond)

Examples of Malapropism in Literature

“I am sure I have done everything in my power since I exploded the affair; long ago I laid my positive conjunctions on her never to think on the fellow again. I have since laid Sir Anthony’s preposition before her; but, I am sorry to say, she seems resolved to decline every particle that I enjoin her.”

“Sure, if I reprehend any thing in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice  derangement of epitaphs!”  

– The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

 “Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But masters, remember that I am an ass. Though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow, and which is more, an officer, and which is more, a householder, and which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to . . . and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!”

“Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons.”

– Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

“By this hand, they are scoundrels and subtractors that say so of him. Who are they?”

– Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

What is Malapropism in Literature

The Rivals By Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Image Courtesy:

Bob Acres and his servant By Edwin Austin Abbey [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons 

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