Is there a specific word to describe the following type of mistake?

I asked your brother about it. Sorry, I mean, I asked your sister about it.
You can see it on the left. Wait, no, sorry, it's on the right.
She will be very happy to see Jonathan. Dang, did I say she'll be very happy? I mean to say she will not be very happy to see him.

They're not really blunders. And they're not typos either. Maybe slips of the tongue, but not Freudian slips, I'd say. But are there more specific terms to refer to such mistakes? You basically end up saying the opposite of what you meant, more or less.

Note that What do you call someone who substitutes one inappropriate word for a similar word?, a similar thread generating answers like malapropism and spoonerism, already exists but does not specify the inappropriate word being an 'opposite'.

  • I have a friend that does this quite often @reed. It is absolutely unintentional, it is always a word with the opposite meaning, and he doesn't recognize it when it happens. I ended up here googling because I thought it would be some type of dyslexia or something and was looking for the term.
    – ndemou
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 9:56

2 Answers 2


Not a single word, but Wikipedia has an article on speech errors and one of the examples for substitution errors is just what you describe

Substitution errors, for instance, reveal parts of the organization and structure of the mental lexicon.

Target: My thesis is too long.

Error: My thesis is too short.

More details:

In case of substitution errors both segments mostly belong to the same category, which means for example that a noun is substituted for a noun. Lexical selection errors are based on semantic relations such as synonymy, antonymy or membership of the same lexical field.

Which maybe leaves you with antonymy substitution error?


These come close to being malapropisms, substituting the wrong word in speech:

A malapropism (also called a malaprop, acyrologia, or Dogberryism) is the mistaken use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, sometimes humorous utterance.

There is also spoonerism:

A spoonerism is an error in speech in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched (see metathesis) between two words in a phrase.

  • Not quite, IMHO. Compare the quintessential example of malapropism from the OED— To dance a flamingo (instead of saying flamenco) with— I asked your brother about it (instead of saying sister). Likewise for spoonerism— I hissed my mystery lectures. I would call the "error" in OP's example sentences simply as slips of tongue.
    – user405662
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 14:50

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