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.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈmæləpɹɒpɪzəm/
- (US) enPR: mălʹə-prä-pĭz-əm, IPA(key): /ˈmæləpɹɑːpɪzəm/
Audio (US) (file)
malapropism (plural malapropisms)
- (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.
- (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.