The Malpropism: A word by any other name
Malpropism (noun, 1826), from Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan's play “The Rivals” (1775). Mrs. Malaprop was noted for her ridiculous misuse of large words; her name was coined from the French mal à propos, meaning badly suited to the purpose.
For example (emphases mine):
“Sir, you overpower me with good breeding. He is the very pine-apple of politeness!” (Act III, Scene iii)
“I hope you will represent her to the captain as an object not altogether illegible.” (Act I)
“Why, murder's the matter! Slaughter's the matter! Killing's the matter! But he can tell you the perpendiculars.” (Act V, Scene i)
“Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you that decerns you dearly.” (Act III, Scene iv)
“It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.” (Act III, Scene v)
“One word, sir: our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons, and we would have them this morning examined before your worship.” (Act III, Scene v)
“My dearest girl, you must cease allowing yourself to be used as a prawn by your brother.”
“Allow me to play the devil's addle-wit for a moment and examine this problem from all sides.”
“Surely it is time for the gong. I am positively ravishing!”
“Let me state the oblivious and say this man – nay, this vermin – must needs be dealt with once and for all!”
About the BookWhat Tobias Kitteridge knows about women could fit into the tip of a thimble. His life since the age of sixteen has been a steady stream of lessons toward becoming the Earl of Aylesford; ten years on, he finds himself standing on the precipice of losing his mind over solving his most pressing problems of a chaotic house and amok relatives. His closest friends vow the answer to all his problems can be found in the acquisition of a wife. But when women are the biggest mystery of all, just how is he to acquire one of his own?
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Written content of his post copyright © Renée Reynolds, 2015.