Following in the awkward steps of Mondegreens and Spoonerisms, we meet Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan’s play of 1775, The Rivals. That unfortunate woman had a strong tendency to use words that sounded quite similar to the words that were actually called for. For some more recent examples of malaprops, enjoy the following:
The magazine New Scientist claims an employee referred to a colleague as “a suppository (repository) of knowledge.”
In Huckleberry Finn, Aunt Sally declares, “I was most putrified (petrified) with astonishment.”
The late mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, called a tandem bicycle a tantrum bicycle.
Basketball player Drew Gooden remarked, “I’ve had to overcome a lot of diversity (adversity).”
And Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees could always be counted on for a startling turn of phrase. Of another player he said, “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious (ambidextrous).”