This is my first post on the English Stackexchange so please point out any mistakes :) .

After much research on malapropisms, I am back to square one. Why would anyone use malapropism on purpose? I know that there are people who use it accidentally but what is the motive of using it on purpose? I have often found myself reading texts that use malapropisms on purpose, which have always confused me.

  • It might help if you give a few examples where you believe that this deliberate usage occurs. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 8:13
  • I cannot see why you are confused. You have found malapropisms used accidentally, and you have found them used deliberately. The obvious conclusion is that they are used both accidentally and intentionally. Accidental use might lead to embarrassment by the speaker and amusement by the listener; intentional use is always for comic effect.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 8:26
  • @KillingTime i will try and find some examples! sorry!
    – Munchies
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 8:36
  • @Greybeard Thanks Greybeard for the feedback. But as Peter4075 said, i wanted something more in depth (i.e. superiority and such) than the plain old "malapropism is for comical purposes".
    – Munchies
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 8:38
  • 1
    @Munchies en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malapropism: "The word "malapropism" (and its earlier variant "malaprop") comes from a character named "Mrs. Malaprop" in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1775 play The Rivals." Sheridan's sole intent was that Mrs Malaprop and her malapropisms were a cause of laughter. There can be nothing "deeper" than that. If you want to know why people laugh, the short answer is that "A laugh at B's mistakes because A did not make that mistake because A knows better."
    – Greybeard
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 8:55

1 Answer 1


Humour is the main reason that springs to mind. To quote the Wikipedia article:

Malapropism was one of Stan Laurel's comic mannerisms. In Sons of the Desert, for example, he says that Oliver Hardy is suffering a nervous "shakedown" (rather than "breakdown"), calls the Exalted Ruler of their group the "exhausted ruler" and says that he and Oliver are like "two peas in a pot" (meaning "pod"); in The Music Box, he inadvertently asked a policeman, "Don't you think you're bounding over your steps?" meaning "overstepping your bounds" – which Hardy corrected, causing the cop to get more angry at him.

Rightly or wrongly, spotting malapropisms in other people's speech gives many of us a warm feeling of superiority. I say that as someone who still cringes at words I have mistakenly used for much of my life - "Well, that went down like a damp squid".

  • Hey Peter4075, thanks for your clarification on malapropisms. Really appreciate your thorough answer!!! :)
    – Munchies
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 8:23

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