English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Possible Duplicate:
Is there a word to describe someone who often inaccurately uses words?

Sometimes when I speak from the gut I mix up words and convey the wrong message. Often times the words are similar in a number of ways (syllables, common letters/sounds). Come to think of it, I'm not the only one who does this since I'm sure you can name a politician from either political party who does the same.

My question is: Is there a word, phrase, or even medical affliction that can describe the condition of mixing up words, but upon speaking or writing them, they are the "wrong ones" and end up causing a miscommunication?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by coleopterist, StoneyB, Daniel, FumbleFingers, MετάEd Nov 15 '12 at 4:06

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

There is a medical condition known as aphasia, which is ‘loss of speech, partial or total, or loss of power to understand written or spoken language, as a result of disorder of the cerebral speech centres’ (OED), but this is an extreme state, and not, I imagine, the kind of thing you mean. There are also other kinds of disorder affecting the ability to deal with language.

The usual term for ‘mistaking a word for another resembling it’ is malapropism. This is derived from Mrs Malaprop, a character in Sheridan’s play ‘The Rivals’, who habitually mixes up her words, particularly long ones. Here's an example from the play:

I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries.

A person who does this is a malapropist.

share|improve this answer
The Rev William Spooner also left his legacy to English. – Andrew Leach Nov 13 '12 at 9:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.