Malapropisms and Verbal Missteps

  We have all done it! Regardless of whether or not English is our first language, sometimes what comes out of our mouths isn't what we intended.

malapropisms  - noun  /ˈmæl ə prɒpˌɪz əm/

Definition: an amusing error that occurs when a person mistakenly uses a word that sounds like another word but that has a very different meaning.

We are collecting examples of this entertaining verbal missteps. Please add any ones that you encounter.

"Obama Steaks" (Omaha Steaks)

"I heard her over-talking about..."  (I overheard her talking.)

"It was straight from the mouth of the horse." (It was straight from the horse's mouth.)

Gloria, in Modern Family, is a master of mispronunciation and malapropisms. This clip captures both the humor and the frustrations of non-native English communication.

Here are some more malapropisms:

"For all intensive purposes" (for all intents and purposes)

"I will take a look at your website and get back to you when a need rises." (a need arises)

"I’ll meet you at the Christian Silence Reading Room (Christian Science Reading Room)


Often, idioms are misused. The substitution of a single word may change the meaning entirely. For example, if you told someone to "break an arm," it would not convey the expression for good luck, which is "break a leg." For more idioms, check our Medically Speaking Idioms in our webstore at http://www.eslrules.com/product/medically-speaking-idioms-audio-cd/

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