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mal·a·prop (mălə-prŏp)
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n.
A malapropism.

[After Mrs. Malaprop, a character in The Rivals, a play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, from MALAPROPOS.]

Word History: "She's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile" and "He is the very pineapple of politeness" are two of the absurd pronouncements from Mrs. Malaprop that made her name synonymous with ludicrous misuse of language. A character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775), Mrs. Malaprop habitually uses words that are malaproposthat is, inappropriate, as in allegory for alligator and pineapple for pinnacle. She makes some of her most outrageous blunders while boasting of her eloquence: "If I reprehend any thing in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!" For such memorable abuses of the language, Mrs. Malaprop has been enshrined in the words malaprop and malapropism.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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