Sunday, November 18, 2012

Malapropisms and Spoonerisms

Malapropism is a form of mis-speech which usually provokes much hilarity among those who witness it. It occurs when the speaker wrongly uses a word or phrase to mean something different, just because the words sound similar, for example: He had to use a fire distinguisher. Sometimes, speakers are totally unaware of the fact they are using it wrong, and that's when people start laughing. One of the great icons of malapropisms is no other than the former US president George W. Bush, whose malapropisms were so well-known that they were collected and published in a book called Bushisms. But, of course, as he once claimed, "They misunderestimated me"...

Spoonerism is an error in speech or deliberate play on words that results in the switching of the first letter of two words in the same sentence. Some of them are pretty creative and hilarious, just like the Queen and the Dean above... I remember one of my friends from Edinburgh saying "It's roaring with pain", instead of... who can guess?

Here follow some malapropism and spoonerisms for you to have a laugh. And, if you would like to add some more to the list, be my guest! We could share some new ones in class next week.

He is the very pineapple of politeness                                        Go and shake a tower
Having one wife is called monotony                                          Know your blows
My sister has extra-century perception                                   You have very mad banner
"This is unparalyzed in the state's history"                                 Lack of pies
Gib Lewis, Texas Speaker of the House                                     This is the pun fart
"It will take time to restore chaos and order"                           I must mend the sail
George W. Bush

A friendly visitor of this blog shared with us a short extract of a radio program precisely about Misnomers and Malapropisms, from Minnesota Public Radio. Click on this link to learn more about this tendency we sometimes have to confuse like-sounding words:

And remember: Reading is important to avoid talking like some former world leaders...


  1. Regarding malapropisms... Something to listen to while you're going to work...

    Very strong american accent.

  2. Thanks a lot, I appreciate your comment! I must have missed it when you wrote it!