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[mal-uh-prop-iz-uh m] /ˈmæl ə prɒpˌɪz əm/
an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound.
an instance of this, as in “Lead the way and we'll precede.”.
Origin of malapropism
1840-50; Malaprop + -ism
Related forms
malapropistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for malapropism


the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one of similar sound, esp when creating a ridiculous effect, as in I am not under the affluence of alcohol
the habit of misusing words in this manner
Derived Forms
malaprop, malapropian, adjective
Word Origin
C18: after Mrs Malaprop in Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775), a character who misused words, from malapropos
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for malapropism

1826, from Mrs. Malaprop, character in Sheridan's play "The Rivals" (1775), noted for her ridiculous misuse of large words (e.g. "contagious countries" for "contiguous countries"), her name coined from malapropos.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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malapropism in Culture
malapropism [(mal-uh-prop-iz-uhm)]

A humorous confusion of words that sound vaguely similar, as in “We have just ended our physical year” instead of “We have just ended our fiscal year.”

Note: Mrs. Malaprop, a character in an eighteenth-century British comedy, The Rivals, by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, constantly confuses words. Malapropisms are named after her.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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