Malapropism

“Malapropisms often appear in plays when the playwright wants to show that the character committing the malapropism is somewhat silly.”

Based on the above information, what is the best definition of malapropism?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Making statements that are unfounded and ridiculous
Choice B - The misuse of a word that sounds like another word
Choice C - The comical mispronunciation of common words
Choice D - The act of being theatrical and comedic

Definition:

Malapropism (noun) – the misuse (“bad use”) of a word that sounds like another word, usually producing a humorous effect: for example, stating, “I’m fading into Bolivian,” when one means to say “oblivion.”

GRE pro tips:

Malapropism first became a term after the 1775 British play, The Rivals. One character, Mrs. Malaprop, had the habit of using inaccurate or incorrect language, and the effect was often comical. Her name was derived from the French term malapropos, meaning “ill-appropriate.” (Note that that root word mal means “ill” or “bad.”) The popularity of the play eventually led to the establishment of the literary term malapropism, meaning the practice of – intentionally or accidentally – using an incorrect word that sounds like the appropriate word. Remember this word by breaking it down into its parts: a malapropism = an “ill-appropriate” word usage, such as saying “A rolling stone gathers no moths,” or, “She is the pineapple of politeness.”

Example sentences:

“Malapropisms often appear in plays when the playwright wants to show that the character committing the malapropism is somewhat foolish.”

“She told me that ‘a rolling stone gathers no moths,’ and I had to laugh at her malapropism.”