A Man Walks into a Bar: Riff #10

A malapropism walks into a bar,
looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing,
muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other,
who takes him for granite.

Like the person I my-own-self heard refer to “the cold face” (vice “the coal face,” meaning “at the point of the (hard) work”), many of us know words and expressions that we’ve only ever heard, never read, and that we can scramble ever so slightly as a result.

Add that to the ever-so-helpful auto-completions from word-processing software and, for all intensive purposes, you can generate malapropisms that spelling check will never find.

Never take a good copy editor for granite, but do stand well back if they start muttering epitaphs.

2 Comments

  1. Jim Taylor

    Surely someone has published a collection of these malapropisms? And do they include instances where the word is pronounced the same, but spelled differently: not/knot/naught, weigh/way, read/rede/reed….

    Jim T

    Wasn’t there a comedian, used to appear often on the Ed Sullivan Show, who made his schtick out of using the wrong word that sounded as if it might be the right word?

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim – A quick review shows that, yes, blogs and maybe some books showcase malapropisms (this, for example). Although they all rely on mis-hearing something, I think they’re driven more by scrambled words (and not understanding the meaning of the idiom) than by homonyms as such.

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