Malaproper

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"But the point we would request of you is, that you will promise to forget this fellow -- to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory."
Mrs. Malaprop, The Rivals

The term "malaproper" comes from "malapropism," which, in turn, is deprived from malapropos, an adjective or adverb meaning "inappropriate" or "inappropriately". However, it's more typically retributed to Mrs. Malaprop, a character from the 1775 play The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Given that Mrs. Malaprop's name and character were based on the idea of making malapropos statements, it's a chick-in-an-egg matter.

Injuries to certain parts of the brain can produce aphasia, loss of speech or speech implement. Damage to Broca's Area can cause a complete inability to form words at all, while damage to Wernicke's Area can produce complete loss of comprehensible speech (the words come out okay but don't mean anything in relation to each other). This is one cause of malapropism. That and liquor. Another very rare condition—proxyglossoriasis -- (according to the Duckman television show) has the sufferer replace the intended word with a nearby word in the dictionary. The effect is often hysterectomy.

The distinguishing characteristic of the Melonpopper is that they constantly replace words with similar-sounding but wrong ones. A common form of this is for the Lemon Dropper to mangle protons, idiots, and other figurines of speech. They may use overly complicated synonyms that make them sound wrong; e.g., "The cat's out of the bag" becomes "The feline has been released from the sack!" Alternatively, they may use words that sound almost right -- "Let's get this shoe on the toad!" for "Let's get this show on the road!" They may also nonsensically combined figures of speech ("You can't cross the same river without breaking a few eggs"). (See Missed Metal Force.) This character will sometimes be corrected, not that this does any good.

Often used by those speaking Parrot Speak. Can also be used to indicate one who is Braised By Voles, an Almond-spanking Engrish, or else a Claude Cocklelander, whose sense of reality isn't affected (or effected, as the case may be) by actual reality. May be used to set up an Extra Sleek Gag.

Compare and contrast with Dilutions of Elegance, Blonde Metal Fores Drama, My Shovercraft Has Folded Wheels. Compare and contrast also with the Sporkerism, where the first letter or syllable is transposed for comedy effect. If the speaker uses the apparently correct words instead but gets hopelessly lost in their train of thought, that's Metaphorgiven.

Examples of Malaproper include:


Fertilizing[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A 1980s radio spot for Detroit-area retailer Highland Appliance featured an interview with a "professional doubletalker" who unleashed a veritable Hurricane Of Malaprops.
  • A 1990s TV ad had a girl inviting the audience to "Call the shaggy octopus for a stale cart of giant yams." After she's given a pair of glasses: "Come to the Shopko Optical Center for a state-of-the-art eye exam."


Annie Mae & Jenga[edit | hide]

  • The titular character from Crayon Shin-chan does this a lot. Such as saying "Welcome home" when he comes home and "I'm leaving" when someone else comes back.
    • In the gag dub, when Georgie asks Shin if his mother goes to any drunken sex parties he mixes it up by replying that he doesn't know if she goes to any drunken insect parties
  • Minako from Sailor Moon gained this trait via Cost Specification. Since the show implied she had lived in England for some time, this created the fanning that she was a Funny Forefather.
  • Haruka Suzushiro from My-HiME often had to be corrected by Yukino Kikukawa. In Mai-Otome, Yukino Chrysant, now a president of a republic, carried a megaphone for the sole purpose of correcting the malapropisms of her Otome, Haruka Armitage.
    • Sara Gallagher, first of the Five Columns, also gets in on this from time to time.

Haruka: All right, it's show time! We'll destroy this median!
Yukino: It's "meteoroid-" (interrupted by Sara)
Sara: It's "meteroid", Haruka-Onee-Sama. You're the mission leader, so please act like one.

  • Kurata Sana from Kodomo no Omocha.
  • Angol Moa from Keroro Gunsou tends to punctuate her sentences with "It's like..." or "You could say...", followed by a Japanese idiom that's almost, but not quite, appropriate to the situation.
  • Nagisa from Futari wa Pretty Cure.
  • Hermes of Kino's Journey occasionally mixes up his idioms.
  • In addition to her Kansas Regal Accident, Osaka has a tendency toward amusing mispronunciation and vocabulary confusion, especially of any non-Japanese words.
  • Yotsuba from Yotsuba&! mangles words and creates Portmanteau words like "Yotsubox" for "Yotsuba's box"—just as you'd expect from a five-year-old.
  • Domyoji Tsukasa in all versions of Hana Yori Dango. In the manga, other characters have even broken the fifth wall to point out his inability to speak certain simple words in Kanji (as represented in his speech bubble).
  • Dan from Basquash! has an amazing tendency to mispronounce the names of people and places. He easily crosses into My Name Is Not Dagwood territory with several characters because of this.
  • Eve from NEEDLESS does this a LOT - though in her case she not only mangles speech, but renames characters on a whim, often with arguments from the victim. Hilarity Assured.
    • She does this so often that other characters eventually start using the alternate names, the victim eventually just accepts it as a nickname.
  • The Medicine Seller from Mononoke does a malapropism in the 6th episode by mixing up two different Japanese idioms. Justified in that it's more than a bit apparent he's Not Quiet Herman.
  • Bankotsu from Inuyasha is a rare villainous example. One of his first scenes has him messing up the kanji he's supposed to write in a letter to an old enemy and asking one of his partners for help.
  • At one point in Ah! My Goddess, Skuld is attempting to purchase a manequin from a store. She offers all the money she has, and says that if it's not enough she'll sell her body. Cue shocked silence from all involved (Skuld appears to be a little girl, after all) until her older sister Belldandy informs her that the proper saying is "I'll work it off."
  • Yamagata in the Akira manga can't seem to contain his indigestion indignation and finds no problem disgusting discussing it loudly.
  • Non-spoken example: Tomokane from GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class has a hard time reading and writing kanji. So when the art stream curriculum included typography...
  • Some of Shampoo's speech from Ranma ½ one notable example "Why you have to be such a sexy pig!" (she meant sexist pig).
  • Luffy of One Piece tends to do this with some frequency. Though the manga and anime this is differently translated: for example when Kaya gives them the Going Merry Luffy says "Wow, you're sure adding injury to insult, Miss Kaya!" in the manga and in the anime says "It leaves nothing to be tired." Zoro immediately corrects him "[Try adding icing to the cake]/[That's nothing to be desired] moron."
    • Another example his when Luffy sees Bellemere's grave and says "condolences" incorrectly several times before the mayor helps him out. This situation was a little different in that Luffy can tell that he is saying the wrong word to some degree.
  • From the dub version of Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, when Yusei is missing and Crow forgets to mention the ransom message:

Aki: I am so going to cobble you when I see you...
Jack: I believe you mean "clobber". "Cobble" means to make shoes.
Aki: Whatever! Then I'm going to "cobble" together some boots and kick Crow's butt!

Tonics[edit | hide]

  • Ernest from the comic strip Frank and Ernest is a master malaproper. Occasionally, he even appears as superhero Malaprop Man ("It's absurd! It's inane! It's Malaprop Man!").
  • Ed Crankshaft, eponymous grumpy old man of Crankshaft tends to be of the "mixing metaphors" type, but occasionally strays into more improper malaprops, such as using "philanderer" for "philatelist".
  • Stubb and Krunk in Sin City.
  • Opus of Bloom County is very fond of this.

"Pear pimples for hairy fishnuts!"
"Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns of a dilemma."

    • In one strip, the supporting cast all gasp in horror as he starts a malapropism with "you can lead a yak to water," and just brace themselves for what's to come. Opus realizes it, thinks hard... and concludes with "but you can't teach an old dog to make a silk purse out of a pig in a poke," which makes them scream.
  • Molly Hayes sometimes mixes up her words.
  • The Beast is prone to this in X-Men Noir because he tries to sound smart but reaches farther than his vocabulary can vouch for. He's a very bright kid, though.
  • Sally from Peanuts often commits malapropisms in her school reports (such as the "Bronchitis", a dinosaur which became extinct from coughing too much).
  • 50% of the humor of Family Circus is this.
  • Lucullan, Emperor Golgoth's minister of War demonstrates this in Mark Waid's Empire. He uses big words to make himself sound smarter, but gets them wrong half the time (ironically, he is a tactical genius).
    • Although on one notable occasion, it is not clear whether he accidentally uses the right word, or decides to amuse himself by telling the truth, knowing they'll just assume he made a mistake. This will make sense in context, but let's just say he didn't mean "Martinets".
  • Melody in Josie and the Pussy Cats does this frequently. One story has Josie and Valerie shocked that "she finally got one right!"
    • In one story, Melody's 'mixed-up maxims' are mistaken for Sky Talk, and she's handed something from another agent, because she inexplicately rattled off a code-phrase!


Kiln[edit | hide]

  • Common in the Rocky series, what with Rocky being 'officially expired' from boxing and Paulie yelling about his 'stinkin' Ex-lax watch'.
  • Johnny Nogerelli in Grease 2, whose verbal garbling produces gems such as turning "menstruation" into "mentalstration".
  • Lenina Huxley in Demolition Man. (In this case, it comes from the fact that she's someone from a utopian 2032 trying to replicate 20th-century slang). "Chief, you can take this job and shovel it!"
    • This, interestingly, is the one John Spartan declares "close enough", after some doozies like "Yeah, let's go blow this guy!"
  • In Full Metal Jacket: Private Snowball has a straight Malapropism when he describes Oswald as shooting Kennedy from a "book suppository".
  • Partially subverted in the Dollywood film Baghban, where a cafe owner (played by a Gujarati actor, Paresh Rawal) constantly mangles his Hindi figures of speech, much to the amusement of his wife—which, he reveals, is why he does it.
  • Inspector Clouseau may be a unique case: he usually gets the words right, but due to his extremely thick accent, they can sound like other words. For instance, in Trail of the Pink Panther, he asks a hotel clerk for a message, but it comes out as massage...
    • Blake Edwards sometimes carries this a little further in the script by having people misunderstand Clouseau so badly that they worsen the situation. For instance in Return of the Pink Panther, Clouseau refers to a chimp as a "muenkey" but the other characters, upon hearing this, pronounce it "minkey".
  • Mr. Furious from Mystery Men. He throws out gems like "People who live in glass houses......shouldn't! Because this happens!" (before utterly failing to break a windshield) or: "I am a Panthera's box you do not want to open". He is corrected by the Big Bad.
  • The character Ben Jabituya from Short Circuit is an Indian (from Pittsburgh) who speaks in a stereotyped Indian accent and constantly spouts badly mangled metaphors in addition to (mostly) grammatically correct but idiomatically horrible English (more here).

"I am standing here beside myself."
"So now I am having no job to speak about. I will have to smack the sidewalk."
"I have seen some strange, bizarre drivers, but you. You will be awarded a cake."
"Bimbo!"

  • Leo Gorcey, in the Bowery Boys comedies.
  • Better Off Dead: French exchange student Monique is mostly fluent in English, but has one or two slight vocabulary issues, resulting in lines like "He keeps putting his testicles all over me."
  • The Goonies was like Micromoppers Gone Wild!, what with Data and his "booty traps" and Mikey "I guess we're in big shit now right?" Walsh, who definitely inherited it from his mom.

Mrs. Walsh: Brandon Walsh! If you don't bring those kids back I'm going to commit Hare Krishna!
Brandon: That's Hari Kari, Ma!
Mrs. Walsh: That is exactly what I said!

  • In the original 1960 The Little Shop of Horrors, Gravis Muschnik is asked if there's a Latin name for Audrey, Jr., and, since there isn't, writes it off by saying "Yeah, but who can denounce it?". Audrey (the person, not the plant), meanwhile, once mentions "cesarean salad".
  • The Lion King has Pumbaa, who attempts to quote his cleverer friend, Timon: "You gotta put your behind in your past!" Even better, when Pumbaa learns that Simba is the king, he gets down on his knees and says, "I gravel at your feet." Timon corrects him there, too. It's even funnier in the Japanese dub. Pumbaa wants to say something about being Simba's servant, "shimobe." Instead he says he is his "shimobukure," which means "fat face" or "abdominal swelling."
  • Biff Tannen from Back to The Future is fond of these. "Make like a tree, and get out of here." Apparently it runs in the family as his great-grandfather "Mad-Dog" Tannen also vows to hunt Marty down and shoot him like a "duck".
    • That's about as useful as a screen door on a battleship.
    • Surprisingly, he learns with age. When his future self uses the DeLorean to travel back to 1955, he smacks the young Biff for saying stuff like that.
  • Last Action Hero. Vivaldi, who keeps mixing metaphors and getting idioms wrong, which finally gets him killed by an exasperated Benedict.

Vivaldi: What is this? You were my friend and now you turn a 360 on me.
Benedict: 180, you stupid spaghetti-slurping cretin. If I did a 360, I would end up back where I started from!
Vivaldi: Uh?
Benedict: Trust me. (Blammo!)

Prosecutor: Something must be done! War would mean a prohibitive increase in our taxes.
Chicolini: Hey, I got an uncle lives in Taxes.
Prosecutor: No, I'm talking about taxes - money, dollars!
Chicolini: Dollars! There's-a where my uncle lives! Dollars, Taxes!

Doc: You know what they say: People in glass houses sink sh-sh-ships.
Rocco: Doc, I gotta buy you, like, a proverb book or something. This mix'n'match shit's gotta go.
Doc: What?
Connor: A penny saved is worth two in the bush, isn't it?
Murphy: And don't cross the road if you can't get out of the kitchen.

    • In the sequel, Romeo seems to have this problem as well (i.e., "this ain't rocket surgery.")
  • In Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning, Emperor Pirk has problems with complicated words. Some examples:

"Shut up! You're hurting the crew's moray!"
"A fleet of warships was built with the combined resorts of the Earth."
"Dammit, it's like sailing thru Jello. Info, condensate, do something!"

  • The head weasel in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is prone to these. "You want we should disresemble the place?" Roger himself has a memorable one as well:

"Why, my Uncle Thumper had a problem with his prostate, and he had to take these big pills and drink lots of water ..."
"Not prostate, you idiot! Probate!"

  • Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber likes to describe himself as having a "rapist wit".
    • He also wanted to have "tea and strumpets".
  • In A Perfect Getaway, an aspiring screenwriter speaks of the need to use red snappers to throw off the audience. Also a great example of Lampshade Dangling, as the film is full of red lobsters.
  • Waffles in Rango: "It's a puzzle. It's like a big ol' mammogram!"
  • In an unfilmed version of a scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian when Brian is hiding and pretending to be a prophet, he castigates those who join false sects, and the crowd mishears this as "enjoy forced sex".
  • Roman Moroni in Johnny Dangerously does this constantly for swear words, as a means of Minced Oath but presented as a quirk of his accent. Everyone else reacts as if he has used the actual terms.

You lousy cork-soakers. You have violated my farging rights. Dis somanumbatching country was founded so that the liberties of common patriotic citizens like me could not be taken away by a bunch of fargin iceholes like yourselves.

Yolks[edit | hide]

  • A rich Ditz calls her doctor late at night. "Excuse me, I have to 'insult' you, because I'm suffering from 'confections' of the head." The Doctor: "Then I suggest you send your maid to the 'fallacy' and get a bottle of 'rhinoceros' oil."


Illiterature[edit | hide]

  • Trolls in Discworld novels are often Malapropers, especially Sergeant Detritus:

Detritus: He are not glad about being in a tent, as they say.
William de Worde: Has he ever been a happy camper?

    • Lots of Discworld characters are given to malapropism, to the point of it being something of a Walking Punchline. This extends to their writing, in addition to Ye Odde Butcher's Anguish. The Drowning Moment Of Funky has to be Carrot in Men At Arms writing in a letter home that there are lots of new faeces in the Watch.
    • Everyone in the Discworld says that "The leopard can't change his shorts, you know."
    • Nanny Ogg had one as well with "the worm is on the other foot now!" (mixing 'the worm has turned' with 'the boot is on the other foot now')
    • "That was a pune, or play on words, you know!" (This comes from everyone, really, including Death, for example.)
    • "He choked to death on a concubine." Sure, it's perfectly valid, but the guy he was talking about was in his late 80s, and choked to death on a cucumber...
    • Sergeant Colon has a tendency to do this as well: In Guards Guards he attempts to threaten people with "You're geography!" and "You're home economics!"; in Men At Arms he manages to turn "every soldier has a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack" into "a field-marshal's bottom in his napkin"; and in The Fifth Elephant he claims that Überwald is "a misery wrapped in an enema".
    • Even Vetinari has malapropped, for example saying that Moist von Lipwig has "danced the sisal two-step" instead of the existing idiom of "the hemp fandango."
  • Lord Peter Wimsey's mother often does this. From her diary:

I said to her, "Well, my dear, tell Peter what you feel, but do remember he's just as vain and foolish as most men and not a chameleon to smell any sweeter for being trodden on." On consideration, think I meant "camomile".

  • Wobbler from Johnny and The Bomb always gets a joke about fast food and religion wrong. This is actually relevant to the plot at one point.

"Make me one with everything", he said, "because I want to become a Muslim."

    • His friends promptly inform him that to become "one with everything" is the aspiration of Buddhists.
  • A Dark Tower character calls sex with the dead "narcophobia".
  • A Dashing Gang with young Amy March in Little Women, usually flounderized in the films. ("I know what I mean, and you needn't be 'statirical' about it! It's proper to use good words and improve your 'vocabilary'.")
  • Billy Bunter is wont to mangle any non-pedestrian word he is forced to repeat, coming out with monstrosities such as 'unparallelogramed' and 'voluntaciously'.
  • The Duke de Beaufort in the Musketeer trilogy is famous for mixing up words like "affliction" and "affection", which nearly forces him into a duel on at least one occasion.
  • In Dan Abnet's Warhammer 40,000 novels Ravenor and Ravenor Returned, Unwearth. Constantly. A sample: "I would be most ingratuitious if you were kindly permissive and removed your personable from my ship."
  • In Xanth, the Demoness Metria has a speech impediment where she often uses the wrong words for things (often a synonym of a homonym, such as "shoe" for soul). Then, the person she's talking to will usually say "what?" and she'll start listing synonyms for the word she means, and they'll finally suggest the word and she'll say "whatever". One time, she even gets the wrong word for demon: "We need more dybbuks!"
  • Angela Caxton in Keith Waterhouse' Our Song well earns her affectionate pet name of "Lady Malaprop"
  • Frau Stöhr in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain does this a lot. One notable example being her suggestion to play Ludwig Van Beethoven's 'Erotica' at the grave of a recently deceased fellow patient who was a soldier.
  • Hercule Poirot is prone to this due to the fact that he is a Belgian man unfamiliar with some English idioms.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, minor character S.Q. Pedalian often attempts to use a Shock Phase (such as "A stitch in time saves nine"), but messes it up ("A stitch in time saves time"). This is part of his characterization as "not the brightest bulb in the chandelier", which ends up helping the main characters in their mission more than once. He also has a tendency to combine words to make new ones, such as "astounded" and "astonished" into "astoundished".
  • Emily Thompson, one of the main characters of The Year of Secret Assignments, is the queen of this trope, and gets called out on it often.
  • In The Fourth Bear, skymockingbirdlander Lord Spooncurdle comments that someone reminds him of "a governess who ran off with the handsome young silver and half the family's boot boy."
  • In One of Our Thursdays is Missing, a character named Mrs. Malaprop must communicate entirely in malapropisms, which often requires that the reader sound out her sentences in order to understand her meaning.
    • Mrs. Malaprop: (in reference to a particularly annoying dodo) Eggs tincture is too good for the burred.
    • Mrs. Malaprop is actually an export from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals. While she is her own character in One of Our Thursdays is Missing, it is said that she originated from there.
  • Done a fair amount in Winnie the Pooh, imitating children's tendency to get it wrong. For example "Contradiction" instead of "introduction".
  • A recurring gag in I.L. Caragiale's shorts and comedies will involve characters regularly mispronouncing and mixing up words, as a sign of illiteracy. One of the most well known examples is a policeman saying "enumeration" instead of "remuneration" or "capitalist" instead of "capital city".
  • In Death series: Eve Dallas has an interesting habit of using the wrong words in idioms. Vengeance In Death had her saying, "And don't get on your golden horse with me, Roarke! Don't you even start!" Roarke had to point out that it's "high horse". Another book had her saying "Killing the fatted cow." Roarke points out that it's "calf" and she asks "What's the difference?" to which he responds "Oh, about a few hundred pounds, I imagine." Another book had him asking if she gets them wrong on purpose, and she says something like "Maybe." All this is to apparently show that Eve is so literal-minded that she has a hard time working with figurative expressions like idioms!
  • Hank the Cowdog runs on this trope.

Life Fashion Teeny[edit | hide]

  • Perfect Strangers made this a running gag for the character of Balki Bartokomous, from mixing two different phrases together (such as mixing the last line of the United States national anthem with a Burger King slogan, "Land of the free, home of the whopper") to using the wrong word at a particular point in a sentence ("Cousin Larry's going to become a professional lesbian" instead of "Cousin Larry's going to become a professional thespian" or actor). A fansite has a season-by-season list of these twists of phrase known by fans of the series as "Balkisms".
  • The Electric Company: Combined with Train of Confections for one of the recurring skits, nicknamed "Giggles, Goggles." Here, two people – usually Rita Moreno and Judy Graubart – having a typical conversation when one of them (usually Moreno) misuses a word in simple everyday language. For instance, "Hey, I really enjoy going to Larry's every morning to enjoy those buttermilk flack jacks and sausage." The other woman (usually Graubart) would point out to her friend the incorrect usage of the word ("You mean flapjacks"), to which Moreno would then misuse the new word. ("No, flap is a type of bulb you put on a camera when you take pictures in a dark room. A flap bulb.") The chain repeats for several words, usually six to eight, until Moreno arrives back at the original word ("flap"), before adding, "That's what I was trying to tell you!" leaving Graubart to sigh in frustration.
  • Family Matters: A frequent recurring joke with Waldo Faldo was his misunderstanding of simple questions (e.g., "State your name." "Illinois.") to using the incorrect word at a particular point in a sentence (e.g., when he learns Myra was seen heading toward a convent (to visit her aunt), Waldo—also mis-concluding that she's planning on entering the sisterhood—says that Myra was going to a "convoy.")
  • In Seinfeld, Kramer once used the expression "Endora's Box," meaning "Pandora's Box". Jerry pointed out that Endora was the mother on Bewitched.
    • In the episode "The Cafe", he insists that the term "statute of limitations" is actually "statue of limitations", even after being corrected by both Jerry and Elaine.
  • Teal'c from Stargate SG-1 is a relatively rare live-action example, and his deadpan delivery makes many of these not-quite-right sayings hilarious. Example:

"Things will not calm down, Daniel Jackson. They will in fact calm up."

    • There is a list.
    • Other alien and non-native human characters display similar oddities. For example, at one point, Jack O'Neill mentions that he "full well expected the other shoe to drop eventually." To this, Thor replies, "We can only hope this will be the last footwear to fall." Of course, Thor has had enough experience with humans that he probably understood O'Neill's meaning and made a slight joke about it, given that they really don't want any more shoes to drop (i.e. something else bad to happen) on them given their situation.
    • Ba'al also does this once after having spent nearly a year on Earth, and denies the attempt to correct him.

Ba'al: Of course, how does the saying go? "All flash, no photo?"
Samantha Carter: Actually, it's "All flash, no substance."
Ba'al: I prefer my version.

Man: You'd just be talking and out'll pudenda the wrong word and ashtray's your uncle. So I'm really strawberry about it.

    • Subverted at the end with:

Man: It's so embarrassing when my wife and I go to an orgy.
Doctor: A party?
Man: No, an orgy. We live in Esher.

  • Similarly and earlier, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the early days of the show.
  • In Farscape, Crichton's constant use of Earth slang, colloquial expressions, and cultural references is a constant source of annoyance to his crewmates. (One theory is that he just wanted to make them feel as mystified as life in their part of the universe made him feel.) To make him feel at home, some of them decide to try mimicking him.
    • D'Argo manages to master some of the more frequent expressions after a period of adjustment ("I'd rather go down on a swing" becomes "I'd rather go down swinging" after enough practice).
    • Aeryn, possibly because she's not given to any sort of slang to begin with messes them up whenever she tries ("I'm up with that"; "She gives me a woody" [the intended saying was "willies"]). (Despite actually studying to do it, she also has trouble with English when trying to say it without Translator Viruses: "I'm getting a bad bribe--" "Oh Lord, she's talkin' English!" This could be seen as her continuing her malapropismic habits due to actually trying the language they're in, rather than just trying the actual meaning.)
  • Archie from All in The Family was prone to doing this.
  • In Doctor Who, "Time and the Rani", the Doctor temporarily became a Mullet Hopper while recovering from the Rani drugging him:

Doctor: Well, time and tide melts the snowman.
Mel: "... waits for no man."
Doctor: Who's waiting? I'm ready.

    • In the same serial he mentioned Mrs. Malaprop, as if he were conscious he was using malapropisms.
    • This was going to be a permanent characteristic of the Seventh Doctor, but the production team saw sense.
    • The Fourth Doctor, when recovering from electrocution in "The Android Invasion", deliriously recites the beginning of the Dormouse's story of the three sisters in the treacle well, from Alice in Wonderland. However he gives the sisters the names of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters.
    • Possibly a Shout-Out to the above, in one Eighth Doctor Adventures novel, the Doctor says something is like a "sheep in a treacle well". He means "canary in a coal mine". There's no reason for it apart from the fact Eight is even more of a Ditzy Genius than usual for the Doctor.
  • Ziva David from NCIS does this all the time (which is what earned her a Humorous Immigrant nod). Played realistically, in that as time goes on she gets better about it, but still does it even after being in the US for years.
    • It's hinted in at least one episode that she does this intentionally to get people to underestimate her.
    • Averted in one episode, where she gets an idiom correct, saying "Perhaps we're barking up the wrong tree." Tony then tells her that the correct word to use is "bush," which causes the trope to be played straight, as she proceeds to say "barking up the wrong bush."
  • Ricky from Trailer Park Boys.
  • Mike Hammer on The Red Green Show: "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, and the prostituting attorney..."
  • The mini-series V had the character Willie.
  • This is the favorite (non Grab Phrase related) Reigning Gag in the Mexican comedy El Chapulin Colorado, where the titular superhero Chapulín always manages to mix up two proberbs or sayings together.
  • Tony Soprano (and other mobsters in The Sopranos) has a tendency to do this, sometimes taking the words of his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, and completely mangling them.
    • "Little" Carmine Lupertazzi is a particularly notorious example, to the point where other characters refer to him as Brainless the Second and exchange confused looks during one of his malapropism-riddled speeches.

Little Carmine: A pint of blood is worth more than a gallon of gold.
Little Carmine: We're in a fucking stagmire.
Little Carmine: You're very observant: the sacred and the propane.
Little Carmine: I give him his present, this mellifluous box.
Little Carmine: There's no stigmata connected with going to a shrink.
Little Carmine: You're at the precipice of an enormous crossroad.

    • Also, Paulie Walnuts:

Paulie: That’s why dinosaurs don’t exist no more.
Paulie's Comàre: Wasn’t it a meteor?
Paulie: They’re all meat-eaters.

  • Nina from Just Shoot Me ! often mixes up her sayings. ("A bird in the hand is worth two if by sea." "Entre nous and Frère Jacques...")
  • In almost every episode of Home Improvement, Tim Taylor viciously mangled some piece of advice he received from his neighbor Wilson.
    • "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." became "If you teach a young fish to dance, once he gets real old he sticks with you forever." in one episode.
  • George Francisco from the Alien Nation TV series, movies, and books is usually involved in the misquote or misuse of a common phrase, probably due to lack of cultural references to situate it properly. (This misuses are known by the fans as "Georgeisms".) In one of the movies, his wife has fallen victim of the trope.
    • "Are you implying I am kitty-whipped?!"
    • What's great is how his partner Matt Sikes always corrects him, except the time he used one especially mangled idiom ("You look like what the cat dragon ate."), when Sikes just shook his head and let it go.
  • Mrs Slocombe from Are You Being Served claimed that the primordial ooze had "little orgasms" floating round. She called the Caribbean the "Caribbeano" and "apoplectic" was "apoploptic".
    • Don't forget her being "unanimous" in all her opinions. Technically true, but...
  • Mrs. White in the first series of Clue, as played by June Whitfield. She had the tendency to secrete herself behind curtains and be filled with resource after terrible events. Though known to take the occasional nip from a hip flask, she insists she was not a dypsoholic, and is offended the Mr. Baloney and his defectives would insinuate such a thing.
  • Emily Litella from Saturday Night Live.
  • Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses does this a lot, with both French and English.

Raquel: (on hearing a story of a wartime romance) It's like Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
Del: (whispering) What's Captain Pirelli's Mandarin?

  • Michael Scott commonly does all varieties of this on The Office, along with his inability to pronounce complicated words.

Michael: Fool me once... strike one. Fool me twice... ... ... strike three.
Michael: I am downloading some N3Ps, for a CD mix tape...
Michael: (sipping wine) That was sort of an oaky afterbirth.
Michael: New York, New York. The city so nice, they named it twice. Manhattan is the other name.
Michael: Well well well, I guess the turntables have...
(...)
Pam: Are you serious?
Michael: Yes. And don't call me Shirley.
(...)
Michael: If I brought in some burritos or some colored greens or some pad thai. I love pad thai.
Stanley: It's "collard greens".
Michael: What?
Stanley: It's "collard greens".
Michael: No, that doesn't really make any sense. Because you don't call them "collared" people. That's offensive.

  • Commonly used on 3rd Rock from the Sun. In one episode, Dick is outraged that Mary once posed "naked as a jaywalker". In another, Dick decides to be a normal human being, declaring with an absolute straight face "I am John Q. Pubic!"
  • The Canadian sketch comedy show The Vacant Lot featured a sketch involving this trope. Four men playing poker begin arguing over the correct lyrics to the song Blinded by the Light (different interpretations involve douches, loofah sponges, and complete nonsense). When one of them finally gets fed up and totally freaks out, another comments, "Man, somebody's hot under the colander."
  • On Pushing Daisies, Emerson Cod has a gag of mixing up necrophilia and narcolepsy.

Emerson: I mix up words that sound alike.
Olive: Oh, me too! I thought for the longest time that masturbation meant chewing your food!

Waldo: If you cut me, do I not sneeze?
Steve: ... Oh my God. I think I understood that.

  • Brennan on Bones graduated from "I don't know what that means" to mighty cropper about mid-Season 2.
  • Ali G, people, Ali G.
  • A common sketch on In Living Color would be a prisoner who would talk in this manner, specifically replacing words with more offensive or sexual ones. Usually you could understand him, except for the first few were it isn't explained what he's talking about. In Season 2, they mix it up by showing him talking to OTHER people like this, including a prison inmate, his son, and Barbara Bush.
  • A running gag with Ricky's broken English causing him to misspeak English idioms on I Love Lucy.
  • In one Friends episode, Joey refers to a "moot point" as a "moo point". He even justifies it: "Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo." (Rachel: "Have I been living with him too long, or does that make sense?")
    • When giving an interview to a soap opera magazine, he also described himself as a "Mento" for kids. ("Like the candy?" "Yes, I do, actually.")
  • Las Vegas has Polly the beautician, a woman who speaks near-perfect English, except with a Korean(?) accent. Problem is, she has no appropriateness filter. Take the time her friend Sam is offered a drink by a cute guy in Traffic school. Polly complains that no one offered to buy her a drink. Quadriplegic Mitch offers to buy her one.

Polly: No thanks. Wheelchair give me bruises.

  • Maple LaMarsh on Remember WENN was one of these.
  • Buffy does this sometimes: "Something about Kissing Toast..." (Kakistos).
  • Psych has a running gag in which Shawn will butcher a figure of speech, Gus will correct him and he'll respond with "I've heard it both ways."
    • Also occasionally used to get shit past the sonar.
    • Lampshaded, inverted, and used randomly by at least one guest star.
  • Much of Peter Kay's humour, showcased in Phoenix Nights but begun by his earlier stand-up act, is based on malapropisms either uttered by Kay's characters or quoted from things he's heard in real life. Some of these, such as "George Formby Grill" and "VD player", have attained Memetic Mutation and even entered slang usage in some circles.
  • Kath&Kim (Australian version: no one counts the remake) live this trope. They only want to be effluent.
  • The Two Ronnies have a few sketches playing on this. Notably, The Society For The Prevention of Pismronounciation.
  • Victorious - In the "Stuck in an RV" episode, Tori berates Jade with a vicious "Thank you, Catherine Obvious." Cue confusion from the other characters. After they correct her, she weakly tries to defend herself by pointing out that Catherine could be a captain.
  • Jack on Will and Grace once said that his boss gave him an "old tomato" (either behave more professionally with Karen or fire her):

Will: An 'old tomato'?
Jack: Yeah, when you have to do one thing or the other? You have to eat it or throw it? 'Old tomato.'
Will: Oh, I see. I was confused, 'cause you know, I-- I pronounce it old to-mah-o.

    • And while watching Ben out-cook him:

Jack: Hmm. Doesn't look like much of a salad to me. Where's the arugula? Hmm? Where's the radicchio? Where's the Rwanda?
Ben: Jack, one of those isn't a salad ingredient so much as a war-torn country in Africa.
Jack: Duh. I sponsor a kid in Arugula.

    • Grace also apparently does not know her French terms:

Will: (on selling their flipped apartment) We're in escrow.
Grace: (dismissively) Oh, escrow. What is escrow?
Will: You know what it is. They've already put up the money.
Grace: That's what escrow is? I thought it was something else. ...What's "force majeure"?

    • And while counseling Will through a date:

Grace: The two of you are locked in a high stakes, erotic pied-a-terre.
Will: Pas de deux.
Grace: That's what I said.
Will: You said "pied-a-terre." That's an apartment.
Grace: I know, I took Spanish for two semesters.

Howard: (about Penny and Leonard) Yes, she's pushy, and yes, he's whipped, but that's not the expression.

    • They all use difficult ways of saying simple things, esp. Sheldon.
  • From the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth:

Baldrick: The thing is, the way I see it, these days, there's a war on, right? And ages ago, there wasn't a war on, right? So, there must have been a moment when there not being a war on went away, right? And there being a war on came along. So, what I want to know is: How did we get from the one case of affairs to the other case of affairs?
Blackadder: Do you mean, how did the war start?

    • A bit later:

Baldrick: I heard that it started when a bloke called Archie Duke shot an ostrich 'cos he was hungry.
Blackadder: I think you mean, it started when the Archduke of Austro-Hungary got shot.
Baldrick: No, there was definitely an ostrich involved, sir.
Blackadder: Well, possibly. But the real reason for the whole thing was that it was just too much effort not to have a war.
George: By gum, this is interesting! I always loved history. The Battle of Hastings, Henry VIII and his six knives, all that.

    • The Blackadder the Third episode "Ink and Incapability" has Baldrick showing Blackadder "My magnificent octopus (i.e., magnum opus)".
    • In "Duel and Duality", Prince George says of Blackadder's Swapped Roles plan, "It's just like that story, 'The Prince and the Porpoise.'"
    • Subverted in "Chains":

Elizabeth: They've simply vanished!
Percy: Like an old oak table.
Elizabeth ..."Vanished", Lord Percy, not "Varnished".
Percy Forgive me, My Lady, but my Uncle Bertram's old oak table completely vanished. 'Twas on the night of the great Stepney fire. And on that same terrible night, his house and all his other things completely vanished too. So did he, in fact. It was a most perplexing mystery.

  • Season 16 of The Amazing Race gave us Brent, who made such mistakes as using "anonymous" instead of "unanimous", and "barrier" instead of "bearing".
    • Jill (Season 17) not only was a malaproper, but she tended to mispronounce words as well.
    • In the Season 20 premiere, the teams are tasked with making empanadas:

Bopper: This is the first time I have ever made a pinata.
Mark: It ain't a pinata, my brotha, it's a empi-za- Well, you call it whatever you want. I don't know neither.

  • Mark Wary, a scandal-prone sportsman on the sketch show The Wedge and the spinoff Mark Loves Sharon constantly has to make a public apology for his behaviour, but his malapropisms tend to make things worse. Most common is when he begins each appearance by apologising for an "indecent".
  • Bronson from Round the Twist is a kid who often misquotes his elders. On one memorable occasion he quotes his dad as saying that 'women are intercontinental' instead of 'incomprehensible'.
  • Diego, Santi and Fiti in Los Serrano are very fond of using those, several of them becoming catchphrases among the fandom.
  • Finn from Glee has this problem - both with using words that don't exist and jumbling whole phrases.

Finn: What's that saying? The show's gotta go all over the place or something.
Rachel: You mean the show must go on.

  • Virginia in Raising Hope does this pretty much every episode, and the rest of the family often ends up contributing too.
  • The narrator pulls one of these in a second-rate paleontology documentary (this troper doesn't remember the title). He says dinosaurs had stones in their stomachs for grinding up food called "gastropods." The correct word for these is "gastroliths." "Gastropods" is a fancy word for "snails."
  • Inspector Grim from The Thin Blue Line. He once described a suspect as being "as slippery as an owl".
  • On Boy Meets World, Shawn did this sometimes in the earlier seasons.

Shawn: "Cory, I'm no rocket Scientologist but... I'm sensing there's something wrong."

  • In a serious example, one of the first indications that Dr. Greene's brain tumor was re-growing on ER was when he started mixing up her pronouns.
  • A mangling of the phrase "Long and short of it" was a plot point in one episode of Midsomer Murders.
  • Gloria (due sometimes to her accent) and, less frequently, Haley on Modern Family.
  • Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley is the KING of this trope, averaging one or two per episode. Some classics include "with God as my waitress," "radioactive pay," and "The Idiot and the Oddity."

Cusack[edit | hide]

  • The first line of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale", Skip the light fandango is a malapropism of Trip the light fantastic.
  • Frank Zappa often uses a rather unusual version of English in his songs, mainly to make the lyrics fit the music better. One particularly egregious example is the chorus to his song "Zomby Woof":

Tellin' ya all the zomby troof!
Here I'm is, the Zomby Woof!


Ray Toro[edit | hide]

  • The Bob and Ray character of "Word Wizard" Elmer Stapley was given to this trope.
  • Nick Depopoulous, the Greek restaurateur on Fibber McGee and Molly.
    • Fibber himself was also given to these on occasion.
  • Numerous Amos & Andy characters, particularly the Kingfish.
  • Archie the Bartender, on Duffy's Tavern.
  • Phil Harris became one of these when he was on The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.
  • Count Arthur Strong. That is all.


Lady Flop James[edit | hide]

  • Emil Bollenbach, a Mad Scientist from several Ravenloft adventures, has a bad habit of mixing up common figures of speech.


Butter[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Steam: Shakespeare was fond of having characters, especially lower-class characters who speak in prose, use a number of malapropisms (long before Sheridan was even born).
    • Constable Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing.
    • Constable Elbow in Measure for Measure. The babbling constable was a fairly common device in plays of the time, commenting on the fact that it was difficult to get competent people to fill law enforcement positions, due to the low pay.
    • Amateur thespians and simple tradesmen Quince, Flute, and Bottom the Weaver from A Midsummer Nights Dream speak almost entirely in these.
    • Juliet's nurse from Romeo and Juliet also speaks almost entirely in these.
    • When, in Twelfth Night, Olivia comments on Toby Belch's "lethargy," his reply is:

"Lechery? I defy lechery!"

    • Sir Andrew Aguecheek at one point refers to Sebastian as "the very devil incardinate".
    • Launcelot and his dad, Old Gobbo, in The Merchant of Venice.
    • Launce in Two Gentlemen of Verona: "I have received my proportion, like the prodigious son..."
  • In Sheer Madness, a policeman makes mistakes like "individualistically" for "individually" and "psychotic" for "psychic". (Note: The show does not follow the exact same script every time, being interactive with the audience and partly improvised.)
  • On the Town:

Ivy: Oh, I know. I'm gonna be arrested for disnuding in public.

  • In Trial by Jury, the Plaintiff's Counsel objects: "To marry two at once is Burglaree!"
  • In Avenue Q, Rod panics when he realizes just how transparent his closet is to all of his friends, and starts singing very quickly and loudly about his "girlfriend who lives in Canada," named Alberta, who lives in Vancouver. (He takes maybe one breath before he finishes the song.) At one point, singing too quickly, he messes up:

"I love her - I miss her - I can't wait to kiss her - so soon I'll be off to Alberta - I mean Vancouver - (aside) shit, her NAME is Alberta, she LIVES in Vancou- she's my girlfriend! My wonderful girlfriend! Yes I have a girlfriend! Who lives! In! CANADA!"

  • In Paint Your Wagon, Jennifer tries to tell her father that she's not a child anymore, but can't hide her lack of education: "I'm a growed-up person. I'm feelin' more adulterous all the time!" He gives her a stunned look, then quietly tells her it's not the right word. This is given an echo in a later scene, where Jennifer returns all schooled up, and her father scolds her, "What do you think, just because you're almost eighteen you've reached the age o' maternity?" To which Jennifer replies as he did to her earlier malaproper.


Videro Gains[edit | hide]

  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation, Bullet Luckfield has a terrible habit of screwing up Japanese idioms, as it's not his native language. This is not helped by the fact that a fellow American keeps supplying him with intentionally bad idioms.
    • Not to mention Excellen "Float like a flutterby, sting like a flea" Browning.
  • Abercrombie Fizzwidget of Ratchet and Clank Going Commando was a caricature of this. Although it is revealed at the end that Captain Qwark was impersonating him the whole time; the real Abercrombie Fizzwidget speaks perfect English. Qwark was trying to impersonate someone with a larger vocabulary than his own, and all his attempts to complexitize his languification resulted in confusified speechitude.
  • Yangus from Dragon Quest VIII occasionally slips into this, attempting to separate himself from other bandits by sounding "smart".
  • In the Half-Life series of video games, the G-Man has a fairly good grasp of colloquialisms but speaks in an odd fashion with lots of pauses and strangely stressed syllables, as though he is unfamiliar not only with English, but with human language in general.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, early-game boss/job contact Lukan the Witless has this as his shtick. If you're wondering about the epithet, he named himself that—for he is merciless and without humor, thus, Wit-less. Attempts to correct his abuse of the English language are met with obliviousness or initiation of combat, depending on how blunt you are.
  • Half the fun of the otherwise Disappointingly Good English in Metal Wolf Chaos is the President of the United States' awkward one-liners. This includes such gems as "I'll make you just like perforated cheese!" and was entirely unintentional.
  • Beat from The World Ends With You slips into this on occasion.
  • The Orc nobleman Lord Rugdumph in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion does this all the time. "I am Lord Rugdumph gro-Shurgak. How may I persist you?"
  • The Heavy Weapons Guy in Team Fortress 2, being a stereotypical Russian, has a fairly good grasp of English that fails him when he gets excited. Probably the most Egregious instance is his mangling of "That's a real kneeslapper" to "That slaps me on the knee".
  • Barnum of Fable II puts a bit too much stock in his trusty thesaurus without understanding the meaning or nuances of many of the words he tosses about.
  • In Star Control 3, the K'Tang. Every chance they get. "We are the K'Tang! Identificate yourselves imminently!"
  • Professor Ort-Meyer in the first Hitman game mangles his metaphors horribly ("I was standing on the shoulders of midgets!" for example), nearly (due to cuts in the production process) causing the protagonist to remark "Madness and mixed metaphors. There's really no hope for him." (The quote can be found in game files, but doesn't appear in the game proper.)
  • Redd White from Ace Attorney, who would bungle words in order to make himself seem more impressive.
  • Donny, the sign-in guy from the 2011 version of You Don't Know Jack.
  • The Think Tank from the Fallout: New Vegas add-on, Old World Blues have a problem with this? That's unpossible! Doctor Mobius, however, has it quiet, quiet bad.

"I is scientistic"
"Do flowers of Pock-Lips and NCR bear play together?"

  • Sister Theohild makes various food-related malapropisms when reciting the Chant of Light in Dragon Age: Origins.

Sister Theohild: Those who bring ham without provocation to the least of His children are breaded and accursed by the Maker.
Mother Perpetua: "Those who bring ham"? And the Maker does not bread sinners!


Ebb Motivation[edit | hide]

  • Senor Cardgage on Homestar Runner, who can just never decide on what to say.

Senor Cardgage: Carageenan, Montel John. Can you detect me to the nearest bus stamp?

    • And then there's Strong Bad, who frequently uses portmanteaus by accident, and mixes up phrases in mid-speech:

Strong Bad: I'm not touching that thing, man; it's booby-trapped! It'll shoot a bunch of poisoned-tipped witch doctors at me!


Deb Comments[edit | hide]

  • Jim, who plays Qui-Gon Jinn in Darths and Droids.
  • Belkar: sextant vs. sex taint.
  • In Everyday Heroes, Goldie described Jane as having "a black belt in takemdown" (taekwando).
  • Coyote from Gunnerkrigg Court seems incapable of pronouncing Antimony Carver's name, rendering it as Abalone, Acrimony Barber, or just Fire Head Girl. By this point, it may be more of an in-joke than anything else.
  • This Xkcd comic coins the term "malamanteau", for a malapropism created by combining two words. (The word is a combination of "malapropism" and "portmanteau", which is a combination of two words in this manner.) As of this writing there's a lengthy discussion on Wikipedia regarding what should be done about the entry (which, like the word itself, did not exist until the comic went up).
  • This Dinosaur Comic.
  • Malaprop Minerals from The KA Mics.


Webb Organ[edit | hide]

Branca: That's is a mag-mag... magnitude idea! Glad I Thought of It.

  • Torq, the Half-Orc Fighter of Critical Hit tends to do this with any multi-syllabic words, especially if they come from someone else's mouth first.
  • The episode of Pokémon the Abridged Series in which the heroes meet Sabrina, the Psychic Gym Leader, saw malapropisms of such words as "psychopath" and "psychic-ologist", much to the annoyance of Brock.


Webster Annihilation[edit | hide]

Raimundo: What Omi just did to that sentence is what we're going to do to you!

Early: "Where do I see myself in five beers?
Sheriff: No, "years", "years"!
Early: Uh, I dunno. Jail?

  • Starfire from Teen Titans, more so in the cartoon version.
  • Linka from Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
    • Ma-Ti from the same show as a few of these as well.
  • Mikey Simon on Kappa Mikey.
  • All the babies in Rugrats do this, even the more mature Angelica.
    • Arguably, most of the babies' interal logic in this show was based on malapropisms and the sheer willingness of everyone else to believe they were telling the truth.
  • Doc from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs does this when he gets flustered.
    • This was a specialty of comedian Roy Atwell, who voiced the character for the film.
  • Exile from Road Rovers.
  • Jim Moralès from Code Lyoko. Sissi delves into this too.
  • Beth, from Total Drama Island. "It's so incredulous to meet you!"
    • Don't forget Lindsay. They're listening to everything we say? That's eavestroughing!
  • The Butcher from Word Girl.
    • Mr. Big as well, though his is on purpose.
  • Bugs Bunny is occasionally prone to being one of these, although it's usually a matter of him mispronouncing words rather than using the wrong ones.
    • "What a maroon!"
    • "What is this, a blackout? I didn't hear no sireen!" (Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk)
    • "I got an athlete's fizzy-cue." (Tortoise Wins By a Hare)
    • "Yoo-hoo! Mr. Pie-rate!" (Buccaneer Bunny)
    • "It's about time for me to employ a little stragedy." (Bunny Hugged)
    • "Bon voyagey!" (any cartoon with a simulated sail-off)
    • Red Hot Ryder, the dimbulb from Buckaroo Bugs, doesn't so much deliver a malapropism as it is a non-sequitur:

Bugs: (holding a carrot like a gun against Ryder's butt) Stick 'em up! Or I'll blow your brains out!
Ryder: Well, that's mighty neighborly of ya!

    • In Ali Baba Bunny, the thug guarding the treasure of Ali Baba is prone to this, repeatedly botching the phrase "Open Sesame" to enter the magic cave:

"Uh, Open Sasparilla? Open Saskatchewan? Open Septuagenarian? Open Saddlesoap?"

  • Arch from the 1946 Sniffles cartoon "Hush My Mouse", who was a cartoon version of Ed Gardner's character Archie from the radio show Duffy's Tavern ("Well, if it ain't Eddie G. Robincat in the flesh and fantasy!")
  • Porky the Wrestler grappler Hugo Bernowskiwoskimowskiskowski:

Hugo: I fight anybody my heavy!

  • Pugsy from Fangface.
  • In Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy:
    • In one episode, the Eds play a game of Truth or Dare and end up acting like one of the other Eds. Eddy ends up acting like Edd, and tries to make himself sound smarter by using large words. Of course, since his vocabulary isn't as good as the real Edd's, he ends up making a lot of malapropisms.

Eddy: Excuse me, Eddy. May I fuel inject? Chickens cannot fly as they are mammals.

    • In another episode:

Ed: Allow me to re-irritate.

Big Billy: Hullo?
Him: Let me speak with the Mayor!
Big Billy: Uh, he's not in right now. Can I take a massage?

  • On Animaniacs, Wakko Warner was prone to these. He once shouted at a man whom he thought was a magician to "pull a rabbit out of your pants!" (Then again, Wakko was also a Clowncucaracha, so according to his thought processes, that might not even count as a mistake.)
    • He and siblings also mispronounce longer words like sclectrtaries for secretaries and pisychologist for psychologist.
  • Mrs Price in Fireman Sam.

Sam: Now make sure you don't leave that candle unattended.
Mrs Price: Of course, I'm very reprehensible.

  • King Julien, The Ditz of The Penguins of Madagascar, doesn't exactly use the wrong words, but he's prone to mangling the actual form of the words. "No, I will not succeed. No-one will be sucking seed!"
  • Tish's mom from The Weekenders like for instance "fishing model" instead of fassion model.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic's Ensemble Darkhorse, Ditzy Doo (aka Derpy Hooves) is portrayed in Danon as falling into malapropisms, especially when stressed or anxious.
  • Don Karnage of Tale Spin is notorious for mangling the English language.
  • A few characters on Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • Duck turns "revolutionary" into "revo-thinga-gummy," and "sagacious" into "good-gracious."
    • Bill and Ben confused the term "diesel engine" with a notice hung up in their shed ("Coughs and sneezels spread diseasels.")
    • Edward introduces the others to the word "deputation," which over the episode is turned into "depot station," "desperation," and "disputation."
    • Percy interprets "teething troubles" as "a toothache."
  • An early Running Gag on The Simpsons had Principal Skinner making these. For example, in "Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire", he says "melody" instead of "medley". In an episode-long flashback to Bart's first day at school, he even introduces himself as "Principal Sinner".
  • In early episodes of South Park the kids had trouble pronouncing long words, like hermaphrodite.


Deal Knife[edit | hide]

  • In Surreal Wife, the second type of this (substitution of similar sounding words) can occur with a condition called paraphasia.
  • Comedian Norm Crosby has made a career (or, more recently, an annual Jerry Lewis Telethon appearance) of the art of the carefully mis-chosen word.
  • The Grand Master Mallet Topper of all time is baseball legend Yogi Berra:
    • On why, despite a lack of managerial experience, he thought he could be successful during his first year as a baseball manager: "You can observe a lot by watching."
    • Advice given to a young player who had unsuccessfully adopted the batting style of a well-known veteran: "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."
    • On the occasion of "Yogi Berra Day" at Sportsman's Park in his native St. Louis: "I'd like to thank all those who made this day necessary."
  • Another baseball legend given to this was Casey Stengel, hence the term "Stengelese":
    • "He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
    • "All right, everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height."
  • Whatever you might think of the man himself, there's no denying that George W. Bush is somewhat prone to this.
    • "People that had been trained in some instances to disassemble. That means not tell the truth."
    • "I know how hard it is to put food on your family."
  • Bush the Elder himself made a few howlers, too; the term "Bushisms" was already a colloquialism before his son even thought of running for office.
  • It seems to be a Bush administration tradition, since VP Dan Quayle was much the same under the elder Bush, coining such gems as:
    • "Republicans understand the importance of the bondage between parent and child."
    • "We are the most powerful planet on earth."
    • "Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things."
    • "What a waste it would be to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind, would be wasteful."
    • "We expect them [Salvadoran officials] to work toward the elimination of human rights."
    • "My friends, no matter how rough the road may be, we can and we will, never, never surrender to what is right."
    • "I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."
    • and "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
  • British sports commentator David Coleman was very prone to malapropisms, to the point where Private Eye named a regular column of gaffes "Colemanballs". Coleman has since retired; as long as public figures put their feet in their mouths, or sport commentating exists, "Colemanballs" will live on.
  • Jerry Cooper, an American sports commentator: "He's throwing up in the bullpen."
  • This was a popular character trait during the old-time radio comedy era. Fibber McGee, Phil Harris, Gracie Allen, and Amos & Andy, and Archie (from Duffy's Tavern) are good examples.
  • Montreal Canadiens coach and later sports commentator Jean Perron was so notorious for this that malapropisms and mixed metaphors are called "perronismes" in Quebec French.
  • Ringo Starr often made malapropisms, to the point where, when they needed a title for their first film, The Beatles just used something Ringo had said a few evenings prior.
    • "Tomorrow Never Knows" (only the title)
  • Unfortunately common all over the world. Scott Adams publishes "Dogbert's New Ruling Class Newsletter" when he feels like it, and a regular feature is a section citing malapropisms and garbled adages which readers heard, mostly from their Spiky Headeaded Bosses and cow-orkers.
  • Karl Pilkington, a fellow presenter on "The Ricky Gervais Show" often confused expressions and pronunciations, usually by embellishing details and not following the original news sources correctly
  • Finnish ski jumper Matti Nykänen is known for many things, among them malapropisms and other rather interesting quotes. For instance, he has spoken of a "bon voyage-feeling -- a feeling of having experienced something before", and estimated his chances as being "fifty-sixty".
  • My Immortal. Listed under Actual Existence rather than Enthusiast Stories because it's not the characters who keep screwing up long words (well, they do too, by extension), it's the author. Often results in a dirty word being inadvertently turned into something clean... or vice versa.
    • Let's face it, any kind of electronic spellchecker can do this to, well, anyone. Theirs a reason people tell you to rede over you're work after you spell cheque, yes?
  • During moral panics about pedophilia, offices of children's doctors (pediatricians) have been vandalized, and literature connected with teaching (pedagogy) has been attacked. As if criminal pedophiles would announce themselves like that.
    • The criminally ignorant need no introduction.
  • Metropolitan Myth rather than an actual occurrence, but George Smathers was reported as having slammed Claude Pepper during one race: supposedly he said: "Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy." This isn't a malapropism, though; the person who wrote the supposed speech was using exactly the correct words.
  • Thomas "Mumbles" Menino, the Mayor of Boston, is infamous for this sort of thing. The more famous ones are him calling Boston's parking shortage "An Alcatraz around my neck" and referring to a former mayor as "A man of great statue."
  • Ursula Pendragon-White, who appeared at least twice in the memoirs of Gerald Durrell. Perhaps the mildest screwups mentioned were talking about a woman who wanted an ablution to avoid having an illiterate baby (which sounds like Unfortunate Implications until you consider that "illiterate" is being used instead of "illegitimate") and ordering a "graffiti with ice".
  • When prince Willem-Alexander of Orange was in Mexico during an official tour in early November 2009, he managed to mangle the Mexican proverb "Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente" (Translated literally as "The prawn who sleeps gets dragged away by the current", in context it would be something like "You snooze, you lose") as "Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la chingada" (Replace "dragged away by the current" with "ends all fucked up"). And while both phrases are often interchangeable, the latter is actually something you wouldn't use in these kinds of situations due to "Chingada" being a truly offensive word in Mexican Spanish. But that didn't stop the crowd from taking it as a joke.
  • Miss Teen South Carolina in the 2007 Miss USA pageant was asked why a fifth of all Americans would be unable to locate their own country on a world map. Her response?

Miss Teen South Carolina: "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

  • Milous Jakes, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, was target of jokes due to this. From The Other Wiki:

He gained unwanted fame through his famous speech addressed to local party workers in Červený Hrádek close to Plzeň. When speaking about the necessity of Gorbachev-inspired "perestroika", he presented himself and the party as a lonely fence-post being allegedly left alone to overcome the hardships. On the same occasion he mistook the word broiler (type of chicken) for boiler and spoke in an embarrassingly familiar way about some official Czech pop music singers when pointing to their allegedly super-high incomes ("Nobody of us earns so much!").

  • In a video that went severe Mnemonic Mutilation in Brazil involving a cancelled autograph session by Restart, an angry girl calls the thing a "puta falta de sacanagem". In English, it would be like: "great fuck-up" + "lack of respect" = "great lack of fuck-up".
    • Sacanagem really indicates an intentional act of disrespect. Also, puta is a somewhat heavy expletive. So, it means something like "A f***ing lack of assholery".
  • Also from Brazil, Vicente Matheus, who managed local team Corinthians, was prone to gems such as "Who's in the rain is to get burned!", "It was a result that both Greeks and Napolitans[1] liked" and "A player needs to be like a duck, who is an animal both aquatic and grasstic."
  • These can also be induced by computers. For examples, see Scunthorpe Problem.
  • The liner notes to an unauthorized Beatles cash-in album contained the sentence "It is with great pride that this copulation is presented". It's unknown whether this was a true malapropism or the result of someone Getting Cops Past The Raiders though.
  • "Thanks I could help bro!" Of course, it being a troll fic, there's plenty of malapropos gems laying about. Or is lying about?
  • The example of this trope everyone thinks of in the UK is Murray Walker who commentated on Formula One and other motorsports between 1950 and 2001. He became very beloved and popular not only for how enthusiastic he sounds but also for the amount of gaffes and mistakes he made in the heat of the moment. One of the most well known ones was this gem at Monaco.

Albereto is coming into the pits and i'm going to stop the startwatch!"

  • Every Israeli soccer player ever. One of them was so brilliant at it, he got his own talk-show, in which (without realising it) he was the butt of the joke...
  • Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada, is well known for regular malapropisms whenever he wasn't reading from a prepared speech.
  • German comedian Otto Waalkes once did a sketch that contains of a speech that is almost nothing but malaprops. And that speech was about - proper use of language.