I am looking for the abstract, non-count form of solecism, if it exists. Just as "brevity" describes the quality of being brief, I am looking for an abstract noun to denote the quality of being incorrect, such as "incorrectness", but geared towards speech. Is solecity/solecisity a word, or is it, itself, a solecism?

If none exists, perhaps there is one for malapropism?


3 Answers 3


Although both solecism and malapropism may be more common as count nouns, they can themselves both be used as mass or abstract nouns too. OED lists some non-count or “without article” senses of solecism as Rare, but conspicuously not the one in question here. Under malapropism the sole definition given offers a non-count sense first, and the count sense after a semicolon:

The ludicrous misuse of words, esp. in mistaking a word for another resembling it; an instance of this.

  • Very good information here. So you are saying that both words can be used in the non-count (mass) sense as well? Interesting.
    – dberm22
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 21:30

In general, it might be impropriety:

  • An improper or unacceptable usage in speech or writing.
  • The quality or condition of being improper.


A definition of solecism from University of Hull:

It is a sign of the perceived importance of ‘correct’ language that the original meaning was “An impropriety or irregularity in speech or diction; a violation of the rules of grammar or syntax; properly, a faulty concord.”

Though as Wikipedia says:

What is considered a solecism in one register of a language might be acceptable usage in another.


Also see Word or phrase for clumsy, inaccurate expression, where terms like the following are suggested:

infelicity, “A thing that is inappropriate, especially a remark or expression: ‘she winced at their infelicities and at the clumsy way they talked’” – oxforddictionaries.com
clumsiness, “A lack of coordination or elegance; the condition or quality of being clumsy” (wiktionary) and various synonyms like blundering, crude, gauche, ill-shaped, inept, et al
incoherent, “Lacking coherence or agreement; incongruous; inconsistent; not logically connected” – wiktionary
botched, “clumsily made or repaired in an unacceptable or incompetent manner”, applied figuratively; and also consider botchiness in less formal communications


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