For example, instead of "barking up the wrong tree", someone uses "pulling out the wrong plant". Consciously or not, is there a term for saying idioms in your own words?

  • @MattЭллен our communication has been deleted on the subject of receiving a -1 score on a topic that I neither responded to, nor commented on. I have a screen capture of this score, and request an explanation: achievements utc time 18:16 Today +12 "... +10 What does "she was as generous in sharing her death as she was in sharing her life" mean? –1 Is there a term for if someone uses their own words on idioms consciously? You've earned the "Custodian" badge..."
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2 Answers 2


Such off-center words and phrases are called malapropisms, and the speaker is called a malapropist.

mal·a·prop·ism noun \ˈma-lə-ˌprä-ˌpi-zəm\ : an amusing error that occurs when a person mistakenly uses a word that sounds like another word but that has a very different meaning


  • I don't believe I would call someone who consciously changes the words in an idiom a malapropist. (I know the OP said "consciously or not" in the question, but the question title says consciously.)
    – JLG
    Jun 25, 2014 at 13:24

These can be called Ziva-isms, named after the character Ziva David from NCIS. Here's a long list of some of hers.


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