A malapropism is the accidental misuse of a word, or phrases, usually due to confusion with a linguistically similar word. Oftentimes, the use of a malapropism is quite humorous. The term derives from a character, "Mrs. Malaprop," in the 1775 play "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
An example of a malaprop would be referring to an "arduous romance" instead of an "ardent romance" or a "mute point" instead of a "moot point."
Often the humor is derived from the suggestive nature of the malapropism, as in the following examples:
- stimulated snakeskin shoes (stimulated = simulated)
- erotic 15 inch houseplant (erotic = exotic)
- let's simonize our watches (from Amos and Andy: simonize = synchronize)
- you've got me in suspenders (suspenders = suspense)