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I'm struggling to explain it, but some examples are (mention does not imply endorsement!):

  • Sir Keir Starmer -> Sir Kid Starver (criticism of his stance on child benefits)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch -> Butterscotch Candybatch (surreal humour)
  • Financial Conduct Authority -> Fundamentally Complicit Authority (critical of regulatory capture)
  • Saddam Hussein -> Sadman Insane (general derision)

These are nicknames, i suppose, but they are a specific kind of nickname.

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    They are, first of all, puns.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 17, 2023 at 22:44
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    I suggest there is not, simply because if there were, the topic would be irresistible to so many teachers of English, most of us would recognise it… Jul 23, 2023 at 16:03

1 Answer 1

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It is a malapropism. Cambridge Dictionary has

malapropism

the wrong use of one word instead of another word because they sound similar to each other, with results that are unintentionally funny

It is also a caricature. Cambridge Dictionary has

caricature

(the art of making) a drawing or written or spoken description of someone that usually makes them look silly by making part of their appearance or character more noticeable than it really is

Charles Dickens caricatured lawyers (= represented them in a way that made them look silly) in several of his novels.


So you could say they are malapropic caricatures.

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    They're not malapropisms. Those are accidental. The word unintentionally there is the key one. They may be caricature(s), but they also may not be. Jul 17, 2023 at 22:04
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    @Araucaria Wikipedia says "either unintentionally or for comedic effect". Jul 17, 2023 at 22:27
  • If must be true then! ;) Jul 18, 2023 at 9:38
  • Merriam-Webster says "usually unintentional".
    – Stuart F
    Jul 18, 2023 at 10:21
  • When they're intentional, it's usually as part of a comedy act where they're supposed to seem accidental. There have been a number of comedians who specialize in this type of humor (the most famous was Norm Crosby).
    – Barmar
    Jul 24, 2023 at 21:10

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