Word of the Day #1: Malaprop Click to hear it.
Word of the Day #2: Mondegreen. Click to listen.
Word of the Day #1: Malaprop. Remember Mrs. Malaprop, queen of the not quite right word? She had to make some difficult incisions? She didn’t want to be held hostile? It was all beyond her apprehension. She had an unparalyzed history of using a similar sounding word for the word she really meant. After her character was introduced in Sheridan’s play “The Rivals” way back in 1775, her name was immortalized. All such word gaffes, technically known as acyrologia, became malapropisms. More explained here.
Through the years, malapropisms have been a sure way to get a laugh, from Fibber McGee’s “polo bears” and “neon stockings” to Jane Ace of the Easy Aces. In fact Jane got up at the “crank of dawn” to think up more of them, even though she looked like the “wrath of grapes.”
Word of the Day #2: Mondegreen. Maybe you haven’t uttered many malapropisms, but are you guilty of hearing mondegreens? You are if you thought Michelangelo painted the Sixteenth Chapel. If you thought Kreskin had extra century reception; if you always sing “Get dressed you married gentlemen.” Actually those were not “chipmunks roasting on an open fire.” “She’s got a chicken to ride?” ‘Fraid not.
Mondegreens are those sound-alike words and phrases you think you hear instead of what you were supposed to hear. It all goes back to Lady Mondegreen, who never existed in the first place, but whose name someone thought was heard when the poem really said they “laid him on the green.” (From the Bonny Earl of Murray.) Laid him on the green, Lady Mondegreen. You get it. Mondegreens are mishearings
Double Word of the Day Dare: Identify the following as a malaprop or a mondegreen. “It’s not irrelevant, it’s a hippopotamus.” (In the immortal words of the Flanders & Swann song as recalled by AC contributor Michael Segers.) Please answer in the comment section below, even though if you’re wrong everyone will laugh at you.
To rehat*, your Vocabulary Vitamins for Double Word a Day Day are:
Malaprop, from the French phrase mal à propos, made up of mal, “badly,” à, “to,” and propos, “purpose, subject,” and means “inappropriate.” Or as Mrs. Malaprop herself said, “”If I reprehend any thing in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!”
Mondegreen, noun, a series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, I led the pigeons to the flag for I pledge allegiance to the flag.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
*malapropism for “recap”
Merriam Webster online