The UVic Writer's Guide


Malapropism is the accidental use of a word which resembles the one intended, but has a different, often contradictory meaning.

The term derives from the character Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan's The Rivals (1775): "Caparisons are odorous," she proclaims. An earlier example is the verbal confusion of Constable Elbow in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (1604) quoted in the section on humour.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995