In Sheridan’s 18th Century play, The Rivals, a character named Mrs. Malaprop constantly used similar-sounding but incorrect words, often with humorous results: “I must crash a check”; “It’s my term to make them play,” and that sort of thing. Words misused in this way have become known as malapropisms after this hilarious character.
Malapropisms, along with other kinds of misuses of words, like the recently-named eggcorns, mondegreens (mis-heard lyrics), mixed metaphors and the like are found everywhere–especially in the verbiage of politicians, celebrities, and the sports world. I don’t think this is because they’re more prone to it; they’re just more likely to have their utterances taped and re-broadcast for the world to see than are you or me. And, they’re often put on the spot and asked to respond to questions suddenly, or make their living talking a lot in public places. Continue reading