In this scene in The Sopranos, Anthony Soprano uses the term "penisary contact" when, in fact, there is no such word as "penisary".

For a guy like that, who's going out with a woman, he could technically not have penisary contact with her valvo.

What is this speech error called?


1 Answer 1


It's not a speech error per se. It is more his linguistic creativity working. Mr Soprano is using a neologism by appending the suffix 'ary' to the noun 'penis' to create an adjectival form of 'penis'. He perhaps did not use 'phallic' for comic effect, as 'penisary' sounds rather legalistic, maybe in the same vein as 'adversary', 'pecuniary' &c. Alternatively, it could be a funny attempt at making a word analogous to 'pessary' for the male sex.

  • In The Sopranos, the majority of the characters are Mafiosi or related to them. None are well-educated and so, very frequently make various types of speech errors, the most common error being malapropisms, an example of which is in the title of linked video ("Volvo"). (More malapropisms from the Sopranos here: redd.it/6s88j2) So, I don't think that Anthony was being "linguistically creative" and was wittingly coining the word "penisary". I think he thought that that word exists (as the adjective of "penis", obviously) when, in fact, it doesn't. Mar 21, 2018 at 5:56
  • This television program aired close to prime time, and these humorous euphemisms or made-up words are perhaps less jarring for the audience.
    – Xanne
    Mar 21, 2018 at 8:01
  • It couldn't really be called a malapropism since there is no such word as 'penisary'. He has used the rules of English suffixes to coin the neologism. Perhaps it could be called a speech error, if unintentional coinages are considered such.
    – JDF
    Mar 26, 2018 at 14:28

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