Malapropisms and Word Mangling

Malapropisms are incorrectly used words or homophones incorrectly substituted for words with such different meanings that they often produce a comic effect. Sheridan invented a character named Mrs. Malaprop in his 1775 play The Rivals.

Here's one of my favorites: mollify/mortify

Sometimes people have misunderstood the content of a common expression:
"enjoy a wide spectre of music" – a little ghostmusic perhaps.

Sometimes it's probably a typo:
"sang themselves into our hearths" – where they got a warm welcome, no doubt.

Here's something to chew on:
"check that the marriage was indeed consumed" – I've heard of marriages being dissolved, but never of their being eaten! I think that the writer was going for "consummated"


A piece of typical gossip on YouTube: "Shes living with Robert Plant Im guessing its not plutonic ..."

Plutonic? Are he and she not moving to a large rock in our solar system that was recently demoted from planet status? Or did this tuber mean to imply that she and Robert Plant are busy knowing each other in the biblical sense?

A friend found these on YouTube:

"I myself as a child never surcame to any peer pressure."

One presumes that this pressure-immune individual was trying for "succumbed", though it is just as likely that he/she never overcame any peer pressure.

Equally likely, that individual never "succumbed" to instruction on punctuation or spelling.

The following could have been a comment about "surcame", but it was not:

"How horribole"

This horrendous misspelling might have been an unfortunate marriage between "horrible" and "hyperbole". However, I very much doubt that the writer has ever encountered the word "hyperbole", let alone understands its meaning.


New words often come into the language through deliberate combination or modification of pre-existing words. German is notorious for word-concatenations written without benefit of hyphenation.

However, many people merely adapt or mangle existing words. The comments on YouTube are rife with misspellings and manglings, hopefully because English is not the first language of the writers:

'"neglectant" – is that a combination of negligent and neglectful?'

"meticulant" - perhaps a marriage of meticulous with a common suffix

"voicious" – presumably akin to vociferous and loquacious

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