“4) Dangerous malapropisms: Say what?
A friend who’s in the media business told me the awkward tale of a colleague who kept saying “antidote” in a meeting, when the word she was grasping for was anecdote.
This is a classic malapropism, when someone misuses a word by confusing it with another word that sounds similar. A number of words sound similar, but mean very different things.
Indicted and inducted form another pair of potentially embarrassing swaps. When a person is indicted, he’s charged with a crime. When a person is inducted, he’s been given a new job or honor (or introduced to a new idea). You’d congratulate someone who’s been inducted, and offer condolences to someone who’s been indicted. Otherwise, you’d be embarrassed.
Conscience and conscious are another tricky pair. But if you stay conscious of the difference, you will have no embarrassing incidents weighing on your conscience.
Want more? Take the evil word-twin quiz.
I agree. So do you want your new word for the day? I thought so.
mal·a·prop·ism [ máll? pro pìzz?m ] (plural mal·a·prop·isms)
Definition: Unintentional use of wrong word: the misuse of a word through confusion with another word that sounds similar, especially when the effect is ridiculous.
As in the movie “Little Rascals,” where Alfalfa says to Darla, “This is a token of my undying affliction.”
There is a blog called The Night Writer that has a regular feature of challenging words. He’s using the book “1000 Most Challenging Words” by Norman Schur.
LOL, I love hearing people use the wrong word (*provided of course it’s not me!).
“Malapropism” is a great word in its own right. Not easy to use in sentence, but very rewarding when utilized. 🙂
I’ll have to give that blog a “peek”, Douglas. Thanks for the tip!
Sheri – I especially love it when my kids use the wrong words. The last “baby” word just died a hard death in my house. They now say CATIPILLAR correctly. Up until last year it was calipitter. We encouraged this. It is so hard to let go of those sweet innocent days.
Ariel – Yes, it’s not every day you can squeeze “Malapropism” off in a friendly conversation, eh? And if you did, your friends would just think you were trying to get “one up” on them.