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From the name of Mrs. Malaprop, a character in the play The Rivals (1775) by Richard Brinsley Sheridan + -ism. As dramatic characters in English comic plays of this time often had allusive names, it is likely that Sheridan fashioned the name from malapropos (inappropriate). Mrs. Malaprop is perhaps the best-known example of a familiar comedic character archetype who unintentionally substitutes inappropriate but like-sounding words that take on a ludicrous meaning when used incorrectly.

The name Mrs. Malaprop itself comes from French mal à propos which means improperly, amiss, or ill-timed.



malapropism (countable and uncountable, plural malapropisms)

  1. (uncountable) The blundering use of an absurdly inappropriate word or expression in place of a similar-sounding one.
    The script employed malapropism to great effect.
  2. (countable) An instance of this; malaprop.
    The translator matched every malapropism in the original with one from his own language.
    The humor comes from all the malapropisms.



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