A lot of times I'll hear a politician or see a commenter in a public forum where they clearly think the meaning of one or more words they use is something other than the real meaning. Is there a term for this type of "near miss?"

  • Are you sure that the mistake always lies with the politician rather than yourself? The typical politician is skilled in choosing words that can be interpreted in more than one way (former British PM Harold Wilson's "pragmatic" was a classic), though some politicians do seem to make more gaffes than others. I can't find a mistake in article you link to: could you please point out the one you have identified. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 23 '14 at 16:52
  • The late Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour in Churchill's wartime coalition, and subsequently Foreign secretary in the post-war Labour Government was noted for his Malapropisms and mis-pronunciations. Bevin left school at 13, and worked as a drayman before rising through the Trade Union movement to found the Transport and General Workers Union. – WS2 Mar 23 '14 at 17:54
  • @Edwin Ashworth Reasonably so. I was raised by an English teacher. If you looked at the link on mobile you might not have realized that the link was not to the article, but to the comment thread. Once the page fully loads, do a search on "Amy" and you should be able to pinpoint what I was pointing to. – Amy Blankenship Mar 23 '14 at 20:25
  • @AmyBlankenship: What does the word 'supine' mean to you? – Michael Owen Sartin Mar 23 '14 at 21:08
  • Some people would definitely call it an anachronism. – Spehro Pefhany Mar 23 '14 at 22:01

Malapropism (or Dogberryism) is misuse of a word that sounds similar to another word that would have made sense.

See also: Bushisms.

  • I don't think malapropism is exactly it, because often when I see or hear this there's not any relationship between the word used and any similar word that would have worked. For example, in the example I posted the person had picked up the mistaken idea somewhere along the line that supine means "to beg." – Amy Blankenship Mar 23 '14 at 20:23
  • To come to someone with your hand out certainly means to come asking for something. That figurative hand would certainly be in the supine position. I really don't understand what you are asking. A supine hand is certainly a hand in the begging position. – Michael Owen Sartin Mar 23 '14 at 21:06
  • I think it's clear that OP has chosen a poor example to illustrate her question. That said, if you can get past that and look at the substance of her question, it's just as clear that malapropism isn't what she's looking for. – John Y Mar 24 '14 at 2:39

'Heterophemy' but if conative, 'framis'

  • the term 'malapropism' is really a comedic device, and is based on the character 'Mrs. Malaprop' "noted for her ridiculous misuse of large words (e.g. contagious countries for contiguous countries" etymology.enacademic.com/22804/malapropism – Third News Mar 23 '14 at 20:55

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