Would it be considered a malapropism to substitute a word or portion of a word in a phrase with another word or portion of a word, generally rhyming with the original word, and generally considered an offensive replacement? For example, the term "Election Day" substituted with "Erection Day" or the company name "Pizza Hut" to "Pizza Slut"?

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    Not really. Each of those would be known as a play on words. A malapropism is usually an unintended confusion of a word with one that sounds similar but means something entirely different. E.g. "They had a fine time at the party, dancing the flamingo" (flamenco). – WS2 Nov 8 '16 at 9:23
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    Are your substitutions deliberate (and probably designed to shock) or accidental (what might be called a Freudian slip)? – Andrew Leach Nov 8 '16 at 10:41
  • With the possible exception of my stepmother, I do not believe in witches. Anyway, I am indebted to her for this fine example: "The two cars collided head on and were totally diminished." – Airymouse Jan 7 '17 at 14:54

I shall attempt an answer based on my having read Sheridan's great work, The Rivals, many, many years ago at school.

Of course, one of the play's characters, the redoubtable Mrs. Malaprop, has delighted generations of readers with a mirthful reminder that the English language is sometimes a source of amusement but also a potential provider of a sine qua non (there I go again, spouting Latin on ELU) for all who wish to cast aspersions on those of us who routinely blunder our way through the language with malapropisms aplenty. Even the late Christopher Hitchins, who harnessed the English language to become the media's outstanding polemicist and iconoclast of his generation, occasionally let fly with a chuckle-inducing malapropism. No one would think less of him, surely!

And I can't agree that a malapropism is always an "offensive replacement", as per the OP's comment. On the contrary, I see no reason to describe any malapropism per se as having this characteristic.

EDIT: Moreover, the OP's "Pizza Slut" for Pizza Hut and "Erection Day" for Election Day are examples of malapropisms which I find amusing and the kind of comical absurdity in keeping with the equally absurd and comical Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan's 'Comedy of Errors'. I am not offended at all nor would I expect anyone to be other than those of a prissy outlook on life.

Malapropism: "The usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase; especially: the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context". (Merriam-Webster)

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  • A long answer that omits to address the OP's question "Would [these examples] be considered a malapropism?" Perhaps you could edit your answer to address this? – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Nov 8 '16 at 7:24
  • Peter Point, it's "per se" - Latin for "in itself". – Kate Bunting Nov 8 '16 at 9:25
  • @Chappo Thanks for pointing out my omission. I'll amend my answer accordingly. – Peter Point Nov 8 '16 at 9:36
  • @KateBunting My feeble attempt at a play on words in faux-Latin backfired! Mea culpa! I'll post an addendum later in the day. – Peter Point Nov 8 '16 at 10:47

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