Malapropism occurs when a word that fits the context of a sentence is substituted with another, incorrect word.
Don't worry- you weren't the only one who thought it was, "And to the Republic, for Richard Stands..."
We all make mistakes. Sometimes we get flustered when talking to someone and we use a word that is wrong, but sounds really similar to the word we’re searching for. Okay, who isn’t guilty of this one: you say “for all intensive purposes” when it should be “for all intents and purposes.” Yup, we’ve all been there. And there’s a word for this type of mistake. Malapropism occurs when a word that fits the context of a sentence is substituted with another, incorrect word. Often this results in a humorous sentence, especially when it is done purposefully in writing. You might have also heard the word “dogberryism,” which is just another term for malapropism. Dogberryism is named after the character Dogberry in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. Dogberry has a knack for speaking in malapropisms by using so many super fancy words instead of simple ones to the point where he just speaks nonsense. A hint to using malapropism correctly is to pick two words that at first glance look the same, but if looked at more closely, have completely different definitions. This acts sort of like a reward for close readers- if they can catch the funny difference.
Now if you mess up in a conversation, or write the wrong word in your poetry, you can impress everyone by knowing the word for what you just did!
Much Ado About Nothing (Excerpt)
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
One word, sir. Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended
two aspicious persons, and we would have them this
morning examined before your worship…
Yes, even if I had a thousand more pounds than that, for I
hear that you are exclaimed throughout the city, and
though I am only a poor man, it makes me glad to hear it.
BY STANLEY COOPER
Malapropisms are wordy misuse
Totally fraught with wordy abuse
Linguistically, wordy erroneous
Nomenclature-ly wordy felonious
You malaprop felons, abusers of speech
Lovers of language, should you impeach
You stand here accused of word instability
We convict you of malapropos culpability
So whether you write in prose or in rhyme
We’ll strive for punishment that fits your write crime
We’ll remove your thesaurus, dictionary too
All writing for you will be strictly taboo