8 Embarrassing (Yet Common) Malapropisms

8 Embarrassing (Yet Common) Malapropisms

You may or may not have heard of these funny little things: malapropisms. A malapropism is the misuse of a word that creates a ridiculous sentence, usually as a result of confusing similar-sounding words. This can create embarrassing situations for people, especially during public speeches. To get a better idea of how malapropisms work, check out some of the examples below.

”1” Supposively/Supposably

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People sometimes say these when they mean to say “supposedly.” Supposively and supposably probably arose because they’re phonetically a little easier to say, but when you see them written down, their incorrectness becomes very obvious. Just remember, the word you’re looking for ends in “-EDLY.”

”2” Jive

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Often, you’ll hear people say that one thing doesn’t “jive” with another. What they probably meant to say was “jibe.” And they’re so close to correct — only one letter off. But in meaning, the two words are completely different. The word jive means a few things, and none of them mean to complement or agree; that’s “jibe.” Jive, as a verb, either means to perform a dance called the jive or to taunt.

”3” Pacifically

When referring to anything in particular, don’t use the word pacifically. Specifically is the correct word to use here, as in the adverb for specific. Pacifically means to do something in a pacifying way, mildly, calmly, etc. Ironically, people often correcting the misuse of this word claim it relates to the Pacific Ocean. While this makes sense, you’ll have a hard time finding a definition of the word “pacifically,” capitalized or not, that relates to the Pacific Ocean. “Pacific” was an English word on its own, before applied to the ocean.

”4” It Was All an Illusion

Another close one, but not quite right. Things can be an illusion, like a magic trick, but people using this phrase typically mean to say “delusion.” A delusion means somebody was out of touch, or couldn’t understand the reality of a situation. An illusion refers to a mirage. Malapropisms like this can be the most dangerous to your writing, as spell check won’t help catch them.

”5” Could of/Should of/Would of

This might be the most frequent malapropism of all. You shouldn’t say any of these phrases. Our speech often slurs the correct words of the phrase “must HAVE” into a kind of contraction, like “must’ve.” This makes it sound like we’re saying “must of,” but the correct term is, and always has been “have.” For example: “I wrote ‘could of’ when I should have written ‘could have’.”

”6” For All Intensive Purposes

Another common malapropism, even those educated thoroughly in English seem to have a problem with this one. When you say “for all intensive purposes,” you probably mean to say “for all intents and purposes.” When you say, “for all intensive purposes,” you’re saying for intensifying purposes, or making things more intense. “All intents and purposes” should accurately portray the message you want to send.

”7” Please Precede

Sometimes, words seem purposefully confusing. Especially when it comes to words with the suffix “-cede.” In this case, when telling somebody they may precede, you probably meant to tell them that they may “proceed.” Precede means to go before something; proceed means to move forward.

”8” Sixteenth Chapel

The name of the Chapel is “Sistine Chapel.” No need to explain the meaning here; it’s just the correct name, and it happens to sound like sixteenth.

Remember, if you’ve fallen victim to these malapropisms, don’t feel too embarrassed; they can happen to anybody. When have you caught yourself using malapropisms?

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