The distinguishing characteristic of the Malaproper is that they constantly replace words with similar-sounding but wrong ones. A common form of this is for the Malaproper to mangle proverbs, idioms, and other figures of speech. They may use overly complicated synonyms that make them sound wrong; e.g., "The cat's out of the bag" becomes "The feline has been released from the sack!" Alternatively, they may use words that sound almost right — "Let's get this shoe on the toad!" for "Let's get this show on the road!" They may also nonsensically combined figures of speech ("You can't cross the same river without breaking a few eggs"). (See Mixed Metaphor.) This character will sometimes be corrected, not that this does any good.
The term "malaproper" comes from "malapropism," which, in turn, is derived from malapropos, an adjective or adverb meaning "inappropriate" or "inappropriately". However, it's more typically attributed to Mrs. Malaprop, a character from the 1775 play The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Given that Mrs. Malaprop's name and character were based on the idea of making malapropos statements, it's a chicken and egg matter.
(Although the trope can be found in earlier works - for instance, it is also exemplified by Sergeant Dogberry in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.)
Injuries to certain parts of the brain can produce aphasia, loss of speech or speech impediment. Damage to Broca's Area can cause a complete inability to form words at all, while damage to Wernicke's Area can produce complete loss of comprehensible speech (the words come out okay but don't mean anything in relation to each other). This is one cause of malapropism. That and liquor. Another very rare condition — proxyglossoriasis — (according to the Duckman television show) has the sufferer replace the intended word with a nearby word in the dictionary. The effect is often hysterical.
Often used by those speaking Poirot Speak. Can also be used to indicate one who is Raised by Wolves, an Alien Speaking English, or else a Cloudcuckoolander, whose sense of reality isn't affected (or effected, as the case may be) by actual reality. May be used to set up an Expospeak Gag.
Compare and contrast with Delusions of Eloquence, Blunt Metaphors Trauma, and My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels. Compare and contrast also with the Spoonerism, where the first letter or syllable is transposed for comedy effect. If the speaker uses the apparently correct words instead but gets hopelessly lost in their train of thought, that's Metaphorgotten. If using the wrong word is the result of mishearing the correct word, that's a Mondegreen.
See here for a self-demonstrating version of this page.
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A 1980s radio spot for Detroit-area retailer Highland Appliance featured an interview with a "professional doubletalker" who unleashed a veritable Hurricane Of Malaprops.
A 1990s TV ad had a girl inviting the audience to "Call the shaggy octopus for a stale cart of giant yams." After she's given a pair of glasses: "Come to the Shopko Optical Center for a state-of-the-art eye exam."
Anime & Manga
The titular character from Crayon Shin-chan does this a lot. Such as saying "Welcome home" when he comes home and "I'm leaving" when someone else comes back. In the gag dub, when Georgie asks Shin if his mother goes to any drunken sex parties he mixes it up by replying that he doesn't know if she goes to any drunken insect parties.
Haruka Suzushiro often had to be corrected by Yukino Kikukawa. In Mai-Otome, Yukino Chrysant, now a president of a republic, carried a megaphone for the sole purpose of correcting the malapropisms of her Otome, Haruka Armitage.
Sara Gallagher, first of the Five Columns, also gets in on this from time to time.
Haruka: All right, it's show time! We'll destroy this median!
Yukino: It's "meteoroid-" (interrupted by Sara)
Sara: It's "meteroid", Haruka-onee-sama. You're the mission leader, so please act like one.
Angol Moa from Sgt. Frog tends to punctuate her sentences with "Teyuuka", which is usually "translated" as "It's like…" or "You could say...", followed by a Japanese idiom that's almost, but not quite, appropriate to the situation.
Yotsuba from Yotsuba&! mangles words and creates portmanteau words like "Yotsubox" for "Yotsuba's box" — just as you'd expect from a five-year-old.
Domyoji Tsukasa in all versions of Hana Yori Dango. In the manga, other characters have even broken the fourth wall to point out his inability to speak certain simple words in Kanji (as represented in his speech bubble).
Dan from Basquash!! has an amazing tendency to mispronounce the names of people and places. He easily crosses into Accidental Misnaming territory with several characters because of this.
Eve from NEEDLESS does this a LOT - though in her case she not only mangles speech, but renames characters on a whim, often with arguments from the victim. Hilarity Ensues. She does this so often that other characters eventually start using the alternate names, the victim eventually just accepts it as a nickname.
The Medicine Seller from Mononoke does a malapropism in the 6th episode by mixing up two different Japanese idioms. Justified in that it's more than a bit apparent he's Not Quite Human.
Bankotsu from InuYasha is a rare villainous example. One of his first scenes has him messing up the kanji he's supposed to write in a letter to an old enemy and asking one of his partners for help.
At one point in Ah! My Goddess, Skuld is attempting to purchase a mannequin from a store. She offers all the money she has, and says that if it's not enough she'll sell her body. Cue shocked silence from all involved (Skuld appears to be a little girl, after all) until her older sister Belldandy informs her that the proper saying is "I'll work it off."
Yamagata in the AKIRA manga can't seem to contain his "indigestion" note "indignation" and finds no problem "discussing" it loudly.
Non-spoken example: Tomokane from GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class has a hard time reading and writing kanji. So when the art stream curriculum included typography...
Some of Shampoo's speech from Ranma ½ one notable example "Why you have to be such a sexy pig!" (she meant sexist pig).
Luffy tends to do this with some frequency. Though this is differently translated between the manga and anime: for example when Kaya gives them the Going Merry, Luffy says "Wow, you're sure adding injury to insult, Miss Kaya!" in the manga and in the anime says "It leaves nothing to be tired." Zoro immediately corrects him ("[Try adding icing to the cake]/[That's nothing to be desired] moron.").
Another example his when Luffy sees Bellemere's grave and says "condolences" incorrectly several times before the mayor helps him out. This situation was a little different in that Luffy can tell that he is saying the wrong word to some degree.
He also remarks, in one episode of the anime, "That's my polisuu!" Sanji then replies "What the heck is a polisuu? You mean policy (same word in Japanese as it is in English), don't you?"
Franky tends to mishear any similar enough word as Hentai/Pervert, and ask if the speaker is talking to him.
In a sketch on the Smothers Brothers album Mom Always Liked You Best! Tommy Smothers commented on how they went to a friend's wedding and then attended the "conception" afterwards. When Dick countered this with "He means reception, folks," Tommy sheepishly replied "I must've been in the wrong room."
Ernest from the comic strip Frank And Ernest is a master malaproper. Occasionally, he even appears as superhero Malaprop Man ("It's absurd! It's inane! It's Malaprop Man!").
Ed Crankshaft, eponymous grumpy old man of Crankshaft tends to be of the "mixing metaphors" type, but occasionally strays into more improper malaprops, such as using "philanderer" for "philatelist".
"Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns of a dilemma."
In one strip, the supporting cast all gasp in horror as he starts a malapropism with "you can lead a yak to water," and just brace themselves for what's to come. Opus realizes it, thinks hard... and concludes with "but you can't teach an old dog to make a silk purse out of a pig in a poke," which makes them scream.
Molly Hayes from Runaways sometimes mixes up her words.
The Beast is prone to this in X-Men Noir because he tries to sound smart but reaches farther than his vocabulary can vouch for. He's a very bright kid, though.
Sally from Peanuts often commits malapropisms in her school reports (such as the "Bronchitis", a dinosaur which became extinct from coughing too much).
Lucullan, Emperor Golgoth's minister of War demonstrates this in Mark Waid's Empire. He uses big words to make himself sound smarter, but gets them wrong half the time (ironically, he is a tactical genius). Although on one notable occasion, it is not clear whether he accidentally uses the right word, or decides to amuse himself by telling the truth, knowing they'll just assume he made a mistake. This will make sense in context, but let's just say he didn't mean "Martinets".
Melody in Josie and the Pussycats does this frequently. One story has Josie and Valerie shocked that "she finally got one right!" In another story, Melody's 'mixed-up maxims' are mistaken for Spy Speak, and she's handed something from another agent, because she inexplicably rattled off a code-phrase!
Although Total Drama's Lindsay does this mainly with names in the show (typically in a mondegreen style), fanfic writers often flanderize her into a full-fledged malaproper.
Johnny Nogerelli in Grease 2, whose verbal garbling produces gems such as turning "menstruation" into "mentalstration".
Lenina Huxley in Demolition Man. (In this case, it comes from the fact that she's someone from a utopian 2032 trying to replicate 20th-century slang). "Chief, you can take this job and shovel it!" This, interestingly, is the one John Spartan declares "close enough", after some doozies like "Yeah, let's go blow this guy!"
In Full Metal Jacket: Private Snowball has a straight Malapropism when he describes Oswald as shooting Kennedy from a "book suppository".
Partially subverted in the Bollywood film Baghban, where a cafe owner (played by a Gujarati actor, Paresh Rawal) constantly mangles his Hindi figures of speech, much to the amusement of his wife — which, he reveals, is why he does it.
Inspector Clouseau may be a unique case: he usually gets the words right, but due to his extremely thick accent, they can sound like other words. For instance, in Trail of the Pink Panther, he asks a hotel clerk for a message, but it comes out as massage.
Blake Edwards sometimes carries this a little further in the script by having people misunderstand Clouseau so badly that they worsen the situation. For instance in Return of the Pink Panther, Clouseau refers to a chimp as a "muenkey" but the other characters, upon hearing this, pronounce it "minkey".
Mr. Furious from Mystery Men. He throws out gems like "People who live in glass houses......shouldn't! Because this happens!" (before utterly failing to break a windshield) or: "I am a pandereks box you do not want to open''. He is corrected by the Big Bad.
The character Ben Jabituya from Short Circuit is an Indian (from Pittsburgh) who speaks in a stereotyped Indian accent and constantly spouts badly mangled metaphors in addition to (mostly) grammatically correct but idiomatically horrible English (more here).
"I am standing here beside myself."
"So now I am having no job to speak about. I will have to smack the sidewalk."
"I have seen some strange, bizarre drivers, but you. You will be awarded a cake."
The Goonies was like Malapropers Gone Wild!, what with Data and his "booty traps" and Mikey "I guess we're in big shit now right?" Walsh, who definitely inherited it from his mom.
Mrs. Walsh: Brandon, don't you dare come back without your brother, or I'm going to commit Hare Krishna! Brandon: That's "Harry Carey", Ma! Mrs. Walsh: That is exactly what I said!note Actually they're both incorrect. It's supposed to be "hara kiri".
In the original 1960 The Little Shop of Horrors, Gravis Muschnik is asked if there's a Latin name for Audrey, Jr., and, since there isn't, writes it off by saying "Yeah, but who can denounce it?". Audrey (the person, not the plant), meanwhile, once mentions "cesarean salad".
In Flying Down To Rio has one line from Honey, referring how hard it is to find Belinha in Rio: "It's like finding a noodle in a haystack."
The Lion King has Pumbaa, who attempts to quote his cleverer friend, Timon: "You gotta put your behind in your past!" Even better, when Pumbaa learns that Simba is the king, he gets down on his knees and says, "I gravel at your feet." Timon corrects him there, too. It's even funnier in the Japanese dub. Pumbaa wants to say something about being Simba's servant, "shimobe." Instead he says he is his "shimobukure," which means "fat face" or "abdominal swelling."
"Make like a tree, and get out of here." Apparently it runs in the family as his great-grandfather "Mad-Dog" Tannen also vows to hunt Marty down and shoot him like a "duck".
In the second film, the guy who gives him the book tells him how stupid he sounds, telling him angrily what the "right" way to say the joke is. (As in "make like a tree and leave". He seems to be cured of this habit in the timeline that eventually comes to pass.)
That's about as useful as a screen door on a battleship.
Last Action Hero. Vivaldi, who keeps mixing metaphors and getting idioms wrong, which finally gets him killed by an exasperated Benedict.
Vivaldi: What is this? You were my friend and now you turn a 360 on me.
Benedict: 180, you stupid spaghetti-slurping cretin. If I did a 360, I would end up back where I started from!
Prosecutor: Something must be done! War would mean a prohibitive increase in our taxes. Chicolini: Hey, I got an uncle lives in Taxes. Prosecutor: No, I'm talking about taxes - money, dollars! Chicolini: Dollars! There's-a where my uncle lives! Dollars, Taxes!
"A fleet of warships was built with the combined resorts of the Earth."
"Dammit, it's like sailing thru Jello. Info, condensate, do something!"
The head weasel in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is prone to these ("Hey, boss! You want we should disresemble the place?") Roger himself has a memorable one as well when, in the search for Marvin Acme's will, Eddie tells Dolores that she should "check the probate":
Roger: "Yeah, check the probate! Why, my Uncle Thumper had a problem with his 'probate', and he had to take these big pills and drink lots of water ..."
Eddie: "Not prostate, you idiot! Probate!"
Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber likes to describe himself as having a "rapist wit". He also wanted to have "tea and strumpets".
Waffles in Rango: "It's a puzzle. It's like a big ol' mammogram!"
Roman Moroni in Johnny Dangerously does this constantly for swear words, as a means of Minced Oath but presented as a quirk of his accent. Everyone else reacts as if he has used the actual terms.
You lousy cork-soakers. You have violated my farging rights. Dis somanumbatching country was founded so that the liberties of common patriotic citizens like me could not be taken away by a bunch of fargin iceholes like yourselves.
A rich Ditz calls her doctor late at night. "Excuse me, I have to 'insult' you, because I'm suffering from 'confections' of the head." The Doctor: "Then I suggest you send your maid to the 'fallacy' and get a bottle of 'rhinoceros' oil."
Trolls in Discworld novels are often Malapropers, especially Sergeant Detritus:
Detritus: He are not glad about being in a tent, as they say. William de Worde: Has he ever been a happy camper?
I said to her, "Well, my dear, tell Peter what you feel, but do remember he's just as vain and foolish as most men and not a chameleon to smell any sweeter for being trodden on." On consideration, think I meant "camomile".
Wobbler from Johnny and the Bomb always gets a joke about fast food and religion wrong. This is actually relevant to the plot at one point.
"Make me one with everything", he said, "because I want to become a Muslim."
A Running Gag with young Amy March in Little Women, usually flanderized in the films. ("I know what I mean, and you needn't be 'statirical' about it! It's proper to use good words and improve your 'vocabilary'.")
Billy Bunter of Greyfriars is wont to mangle any non-pedestrian word he is forced to repeat, coming out with monstrosities such as 'unparallelogramed' and 'voluntaciously'.
The Duke de Beaufort in the Musketeer trilogy is famous for mixing up words like "affliction" and "affection", which nearly forces him into a duel on at least one occasion.
In Dan Abnet's Warhammer 40,000 novels Ravenor and Ravenor Returned, Unwearth. Constantly. A sample: "I would be most ingratuitious if you were kindly permissive and removed your personable from my ship."
In Xanth, the Demoness Metria has a speech impediment where she often uses the wrong words for things (often a synonym of a homonym, such as "shoe" for soul). Then, the person she's talking to will usually say "what?" and she'll start listing synonyms for the word she means, and they'll finally suggest the word and she'll say "whatever". One time, she even gets the wrong word for demon: "We need more dybbuks!"
Angela Caxton in Keith Waterhouse' Our Song well earns her affectionate pet name of "Lady Malaprop"
Frau Stöhr in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain does this a lot. One notable example being her suggestion to play Ludwig van Beethoven's 'Erotica' at the grave of a recently deceased fellow patient who was a soldier.
Hercule Poirot is prone to this due to the fact that he is a Belgian man unfamiliar with some English idioms.
In The Mysterious Benedict Society, minor character S.Q. Pedalian often attempts to use a Stock Phrase (such as "A stitch in time saves nine"), but messes it up ("A stitch in time saves time"). This is part of his characterization as "not the brightest bulb in the chandelier," which ends up helping the main characters in their mission more than once. He also has a tendency to combine words to make new ones, such as "astounded" and "astonished" into "astoundished." (It's later revealed that he's as befuddled as he is because he has been continuously brainwashed to forget his dark feelings about the series villain, Ledroptha Curtain.)
In The Fourth Bear, cloudcuckoolander Lord Spooncurdle comments that someone reminds him of "a governess who ran off with the handsome young silver and half the family's boot boy."
In One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Mrs. Malaprop from The Rivals is one of the Bookworld characters, and her famed characteristic is exaggerated to the point that she must communicate entirely in malapropisms, which often requires that the reader sound out her sentences in order to understand her meaning.
Mrs. Malaprop: (in reference to a particularly annoying dodo) Eggs tincture is too good for the burred.
Done a fair amount in Winnie the Pooh, imitating children's tendency to get it wrong. For example "Contradiction" instead of "introduction".
A recurring gag in I.L. Caragiale's shorts and comedies will involve characters regularly mispronouncing and mixing up words, as a sign of illiteracy. One of the most well known examples is a policeman saying "enumeration" instead of "remuneration" or "capitalist" instead of "capital city".
In Death series: Eve Dallas has an interesting habit of using the wrong words in idioms. Vengeance In Death had her saying ''And don't get on your golden horse with me, Roarke! Don't you even start!" Roarke had to point out that it's "high horse". Another books had her saying "Killing the fatted cow." Roarke points out that it's "calf" and she asks "What's the difference?" to which he responds "Oh, about a few hundred pounds, I imagine." Another book had him asking if she gets them wrong on purpose, and she says something like "Maybe." All this is to apparently show that Eve is so literal-minded that she has a hard time working with figurative expressions like idioms!
The Electric Company: Combined with Chain of Corrections for one of the recurring skits, nicknamed "Giggles, Goggles." Here, two people – usually Rita Moreno and Judy Graubart – having a typcial conversation when one of them (usually Moreno) misuses a word in simple everyday language. For instance, "Hey, I really enjoy going to Larry's every morning to enjoy those buttermilk flack jacks and sausage." The other woman (usually Graubart) would point out to her friend the incorrect usage of the word ("You mean flapjacks"), to which Moreno would then misuse the new word. ("No, flap is a type of bulb you put on a camera when you take pictures in a dark room. A flap bulb.") The chain repeats for several words, usually six to eight, until Moreno arrives back at the original word ("flap"), before adding, "That's what I was trying to tell you!" leaving Graubart to sigh in frustration.
Family Matters: A frequent recurring joke with Waldo Faldo was his misunderstanding of simple questions (e.g., "State your name." "Illinois.") to using the incorrect word at a particular point in a sentence (e.g., when he learns Myra was seen heading toward a convent (to visit her aunt), Waldo — also mis-concluding that she's planning on entering the sisterhood — says that Myra was going to a "convoy.")
Waldo: If you cut me, do I not sneeze? Steve: ... Oh my God. I think I understood that.
He eventually gets better about this as he acclimates to Earth's culture, but occasionally uses the phrase "undomesticated equines could not remove me" as an intentional Call Back to this behavior.
Other alien and non-native human characters display similar oddities. For example, at one point, Jack O'Neill mentions that he "full well expected the other shoe to drop eventually." To this, Thor replies, "We can only hope this will be the last footwear to fall." Of course, Thor has had enough experience with humans that he probably understood O'Neill's meaning and made a slight joke about it, given that they really don't want any more shoes to drop (i.e. something else bad to happen) on them given their situation.
Ba'al also does this once after having spent nearly a year on Earth, and denies the attempt to correct him.
Ba'al: Of course, how does the saying go? "All flash, no photo?" Samantha Carter: Actually, it's "All flash, no substance." Ba'al: I prefer my version.
Ba'al knows more about human (or, at least, American) culture than he lets on. After all, he managed to become the CEO of a major company.
In Farscape, Crichton's constant use of Earth slang, colloquial expressions, and cultural references is a constant source of annoyance to his crewmates. (One theory is that he just wanted to make them feel as mystified as life in their part of the universe made him feel.) To make him feel at home, some of them decide to try mimicking him.
D'Argo manages to master some of the more frequent expressions after a period of adjustment ("I'd rather go down on a swing" becomes "I'd rather go down swinging" after enough practice).
Aeryn, possibly because she's not given to any sort of slang to begin with messes them up whenever she tries ("I'm up with that"; "She gives me a woody" [the intended saying was "willies"]). (Despite actually studying to do it, she also has trouble with English when trying to say it without Translator Microbes: "I'm getting a bad bribe—" "Oh Lord, she's talkin' English!" This could be seen as her continuing her malapropismic habits due to actually trying the language they're in, rather than just trying the actual meaning.)
In Doctor Who, "Time and the Rani", the Doctor temporarily became a Malaproper while recovering from the Rani drugging him:
Doctor: Well, time and tide melts the snowman. Mel: "...waits for no man." Doctor: Who's waiting? I'm ready.
In the same serial he mentioned Mrs. Malaprop, as if he were conscious he was using malapropisms.
This was going to be a permanent characteristic of the Seventh Doctor, but the production team saw sense.
The Fourth Doctor, when recovering from electrocution in "The Android Invasion", deliriously recites the beginning of the Dormouse's story of the three sisters in the treacle well, from Alice in Wonderland. However he gives the sisters the names of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters.
Possibly a Shout-Out to the above, in one Eighth Doctor Adventures novel, the Doctor says something is like a "sheep in a treacle well". He means "canary in a coal mine". There's no reason for it apart from the fact Eight is even more of a Ditzy Genius than usual for the Doctor.
Ziva David does this all the time (which is what earned her a Funny Foreigner nod). Played realistically, in that as time goes on she gets better about it, but still does it even after being in the US for years.
Averted in one episode, where she gets an idiom correct, saying "Perhaps we're barking up the wrong tree." Tony then tells her that the correct word to use is "bush," which causes the trope to be played straight, as she proceeds to say "barking up the wrong bush."
The mini-series V had the alien character Willie who was supposed to be sent to Israel, not California, so he's not that proficient at English and does this pretty much all the time.
This is the favorite (non-Catch Phrase related) Running Gag in the Mexican comedy El Chapulín Colorado, where the titular superhero Chapulín always manages to mix up two proberbs or sayings together. El Chavo del ocho also did this sometimes. Although, one school episode had Godinez thinking Prof. Jirafales said "sonámbulos" (sleepwalkers) when he asked him "¿Qué son ángulos?" (What are angles?).
Tony Soprano has a tendency to do this, sometimes taking the words of his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, and completely mangling them.
"Little" Carmine Lupertazzi is a particularly notorious example, to the point where other characters refer to him as Brainless the Second and exchange confused looks during one of his malapropism-riddled speeches.
Little Carmine: A pint of blood is worth more than a gallon of gold.
Little Carmine: We're in a fucking stagmire.
Little Carmine: You're very observant: the sacred and the propane.
Little Carmine: I give him his present, this mellifluous box.
Little Carmine: There's no stigmata connected with going to a shrink.
Little Carmine: You're at the precipice of an enormous crossroad.
Also, Paulie Walnuts:
Paulie: That’s why dinosaurs don’t exist no more.
Paulie's Comàre: Wasn’t it a meteor?
Paulie: They’re all meat-eaters.
Nina from Just Shoot Me! often mixes up her sayings. ("A bird in the hand is worth two if by sea." "Entre nous and Frère Jacques...")
In almost every episode of Home Improvement, Tim Taylor viciously mangled some piece of advice he received from his neighbor Wilson. "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." became "If you teach a young fish to dance, once he gets real old he sticks with you forever." in one episode.
George Francisco from the Alien Nation TV series, movies, and books is usually involved in the misquote or misuse of a common phrase, probably due to lack of cultural references to situate it properly. (This misuses are known by the fans as "Georgeisms".) In one of the movies, his wife has fallen victim of the trope.
"Are you implying I am kitty-whipped?!"
What's great is how his partner Matt Sikes always corrects him, except the time he used one especially mangled idiom ("You look like what the cat dragon ate."), when Sikes just shook his head and let it go.
Mrs Slocombe from Are You Being Served? claimed that the primordial ooze had "little orgasms" floating round. She called the Caribbean the "Caribbeano" and "apoplectic" was "apoploptic".
She's also in the habit of using the words "obstropulus" and "igni-moan-ius"
Don't forget her being "unanimous" in all her opinions. Technically true, but...
After the UK's conversion to metric, she told Ms. Brahms that everything was measured in centipedes.
"But I would ask you to remember that Parliament has passed the Sexual Relations Act, which states that women are just as good at it as men!"
Mrs. White in the first series of Clue, as played by June Whitfield. She had the tendency to secrete herself behind curtains and be filled with resource after terrible events. Though known to take the occasional nip from a hip flask, she insists she was not a dypsoholic, and is offended the Mr. Baloney and his defectives would insinuate such a thing.
Michael: If I brought in some burritos or some colored greens or some pad thai. I love pad thai. Stanley: It's "collard greens". Michael: What? Stanley: It's "collard greens". Michael: No, that doesn't really make any sense. Because you don't call them "collared" people. That's offensive.
In a slightly more subtle example, when a saying Michael's using has more than one possible phrasing, he'll often get the saying right, but use the wrong version of it, an example of which being when Michael is comforting a guy who had just broken up with a girl by mentioning that "You don't deserve her", even though the context indicated that he meant the opposite. Kevin was understandably confused, though Dwight actually thanked Michael for this, presumably getting what Michael was trying to say.
Commonly used on 3rd Rock from the Sun. In one episode, Dick is outraged that Mary once posed "naked as a jaywalker". In another, Dick decides to be a normal human being, declaring with an absolute straight face "I am John Q. Pubic!"
The Canadian sketch comedy show The Vacant Lot featured a sketch involving this trope. Four men playing poker begin arguing over the correct lyrics to the song Blinded by the Light (different interpretations involve douches, loofah sponges, and complete nonsense). When one of them finally gets fed up and totally freaks out, another comments, "Man, somebody's hot under the colander."
On Pushing Daisies, Emerson Cod has a gag of mixing up necrophilia and narcolepsy.
Emerson: I mix up words that sound alike. Olive: Oh, me too! I thought for the longest time that masturbation meant chewing your food!
However, there was one notable subversion, where Al went to hold a one-man protest at his old football field; she clearly said knew exactly what the word meant here:
Kelly: I hope he doesn't make a testicle of himself.
Peg: You mean "spectacle", honey.
Kelly:No, I mean testicle!
Ray Kowalski on Due South has a habit of making these.
As does Francesca Vecchio, who has a Running Gag of misquoting typical police jargon (for instance, "broiling" a suspect instead of grilling). This is weaponized in one episode, where she eventually drives a suspect into confessing by doing this relentlessly.
Brennan on Bones graduated from "I don't know what that means" to Malaproper about mid-Season 2.
A common sketch on In Living Color! would be a prisoner who would talk in this manner, specifically replacing words with more offensive or sexual ones. Usually you could understand him, except for the first few where it isn't explained what he's talking about. In Season 2, they mix it up by showing him talking to OTHER people like this, including a prison inmate, his son, and Barbara Bush.
A running gag with Ricky's broken English causing him to misspeak English idioms on I Love Lucy.
In one episode, Joey refers to a "moot point" as a "moo point". He even justifies it: "Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo." (Rachel: "Have I been living with him too long, or does that make sense?")
When giving an interview to a soap opera magazine, he also described himself as a "Mento" for kids. ("Like the candy?" "Yes, I do, actually.")
In another episode he refers to his sister and Rachel, who both like fashion, as "fashists".
Similarly in one episode of My Name Is Earl Randy argues with Darnell that the expression is "mute point" because it's not worth talking about.
Las Vegas has Polly the beautician, a woman who speaks near-perfect English, except with a Korean(?) accent. Problem is, she has no appropriateness filter. Take the time her friend Sam is offered a drink by a cute guy in Traffic school. Polly complains that no one offered to buy her a drink. Quadriplegic Mitch offers to buy her one.
Polly: No thanks. Wheelchair give me bruises.
Maple LaMarsh on Remember WENN was one of these.
Buffy does this sometimes: "Something about Kissing Toast..." (Kakistos).
Psych has a running gag in which Shawn will butcher a figure of speech, Gus will correct him and he'll respond with "I've heard it both ways." Also occasionally used to Getting Crap Past the Radar. Lampshaded, inverted, and used randomly by at least one guest star.
Much of Peter Kay's humour, showcased in Phoenix Nights but begun by his earlier stand-up act, is based on malapropisms either uttered by Kay's characters or quoted from things he's heard in real life. Some of these, such as "George Formby Grill" and "VD player", have attained Memetic Mutation and even entered slang usage in some circles.
Kath and Kim (Australian version: no one counts the remake) live this trope. They only want to be effluent.
Victorious - In the "Stuck in an RV" episode, Tori berates Jade with a vicious "Thank you, Catherine Obvious." Cue confusion from the other characters. After they correct her, she weakly tries to defend herself by pointing out that Catherine could be a captain.
Jack on Will and Grace once said that his boss gave him an "old tomato" (either behave more professionally with Karen or fire her):
Will: An 'old tomato'?
Jack: Yeah, when you have to do one thing or the other? You have to eat it or throw it? 'Old tomato.'
Will: Oh, I see. I was confused, 'cause you know, I— I pronounce it old to-mah-o.
And while watching Ben out-cook him:
Jack: Hmm. Doesn't look like much of a salad to me. Where's the arugula? Hmm? Where's the radicchio? Where's the Rwanda?
Ben: Jack, one of those isn't a salad ingredient so much as a war-torn country in Africa.
Jack: Duh. I sponsor a kid in Arugula.
Grace also apparently does not know her French terms:
Will:(on selling their flipped apartment) We're in escrow.
Grace:(dismissively) Oh, escrow. What is escrow?
Will: You know what it is. They've already put up the money.
Grace: That's what escrow is? I thought it was something else. ...What's "force majeure"?
And while counseling Will through a date:
Grace: The two of you are locked in a high stakes, erotic pied-a-terre.
Will: Pas de deux.
Grace: That's what I said.
Will: You said "pied-a-terre." That's an apartment.
Baldrick: The thing is, the way I see it, these days, there's a war on, right? And ages ago, there wasn't a war on, right? So, there must have been a moment when there not being a war on went away, right? And there being a war on came along. So, what I want to know is: How did we get from the one case of affairs to the other case of affairs?
Blackadder: Do you mean, how did the war start?
A bit later:
Baldrick: I heard that it started when a bloke called Archie Duke shot an ostrich 'cos he was hungry.
Blackadder: I think you mean, it started when the Archduke of Austro-Hungary got shot.
Baldrick: No, there was definitely an ostrich involved, sir.
Blackadder:Well, possibly. But the real reason for the whole thing was that it was just too much effort not to have a war.
George: By gum, this is interesting! I always loved history. The Battle of Hastings, Henry VIII and his six knives, all that.
The Blackadder the Third episode "Ink and Incapability" has Baldrick showing Blackadder "My magnificent octopus (i.e., magnum opus)".
Also from the same episode:
Baldrick:(After Blackadder essentially calls Samuel Johnson an idiot) That's not what you said when you sent him your navel.
Blackadder: Novel, Baldrick, not navel. I sent him my novel.
Baldrick: Well, novel or navel, it all sounds a bit like a bag of grapefruits to me.
Blackadder: The phrase, Baldrick, is "a case of sour grapes".
In "Duel and Duality", Prince George says of Blackadder's Swapped Roles plan, "It's just like that story, 'The Prince and the Porpoise.'"
Subverted in "Chains":
Elizabeth: They've simply vanished!
Percy: Like an old oak table.
Elizabeth: ..."Vanished", Lord Percy, not "Varnished".
Percy: Forgive me, My Lady, but my Uncle Bertram's old oak table completely vanished. 'Twas on the night of the great Stepney fire. And on that same terrible night, his house and all his other things completely vanished too. So did he, in fact. It was a most perplexing mystery.
Season 16 of The Amazing Race gave us Brent, who made such mistakes as using "anonymous" instead of "unanimous", and "barrier" instead of "bearing".
Jill (Season 17) not only was a malaproper, but she tended to mispronounce words as well.
In the Season 20 premiere, the teams are tasked with making empanadas:
Bopper: This is the first time I have ever made a pinata.
Mark: It ain't a pinata, my brotha, it's a empi-za- Well, you call it whatever you want. I don't know neither.
Mark Wary, a scandal-prone sportsman on the sketch show The Wedge and the spinoff Mark Loves Sharon constantly has to make a public apology for his behaviour, but his malapropisms tend to make things worse. Most common is when he begins each appearance by apologising for an "indecent".
Bronson from Round the Twist is a kid who often misquotes his elders. On one memorable occasion, he quotes his dad as saying that 'women are intercontinental' instead of 'incomprehensible'.
Finn from Glee has this problem - both with using words that don't exist and jumbling whole phrases.
Finn: What's that saying? The show's gotta go all over the place or something.
Rachel: You mean the show must go on.
Virginia in Raising Hope does this pretty much every episode, and the rest of the family often ends up contributing too.
The narrator pulls one of these in a second-rate paleontology documentary (this troper doesn't remember the title). He says dinosaurs had stones in their stomachs for grinding up food called "gastropods." The correct word for these is "gastroliths." "Gastropods" is a fancy word for "snails."
Inspector Grim from The Thin Blue Line. He once described a suspect as being "as slippery as an owl".
A mangling of the phrase "Long and short of it" was a plot point in one episode of Midsomer Murders.
Gloria (due sometimes to her accent) and, less frequently, Haley on Modern Family.
Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley is the KING of this trope, averaging one or two per episode. Some classics include "with God as my waitress," "radioactive pay," and "The Idiot and the Oddity."
On NYPD Blue, Det. Andy Sipowicz made reference to problems with his "prostrate." John Irvin tried, as gently as he could, to teach Andy that the word was "prostate," but it never quite took.
In Degrassi the character Spinner did this a lot in the earlier seasons, such as calling Ms. Kwan the pain of his existence rather than the bane, and saying the peace club meeting was boring people into submersion rather than submission.
Officer Crabtree from 'Allo 'Allo! had this as his standard shtick, as a British undercover agent with a terrible French accent, which was then filtered through the Translation Convention.
Officer Crabtree: Good moaning.
In Frasier, Niles and Daphne are being hounded by the press and the police in connection with Maris' arrest for murder. Frasier offers to make a statement to the press on their behalf, saying that the two of them will soon be exonerated. However, what he ends up saying is that they will soon be executed.
Troy: It's not a request. I'm giving you an all tomato, meaning that you give me the whole tomato, or else.
Troy in general has this going for him (confusing "scapegoat" with "escape goat", etc), as does Britta ("rowboat cop" instead of RoboCop, "edible complex" instead of "Oedipal complex", etc).
The premise of the CBS game show Whew! was for the contestants to correct malapropisms, which in the show's vernacular were "bloopers".
Murdoch Mysteries: Constable Crabtree mispronounces something or messes up a quote from time to time, especially in the early seasons. Detective Murdoch sometimes corrects him, but once George Crabtree dismisses him and says that they will have agree to disagree as to what the correct expression is, Murdoch stops doing it. The best instance was probably when George repeated after Murdoch that haemo-goblin is the substance causing a chemical reaction.
Starsky in Starsky & Hutch does this occasionally, for example, referring to a rock as "ignatius" (he meant "igneous") and pronouncing "hippopotamus" as "hoppopitimus." Hutch usually makes fun of him for it.
In Sesame Street, back when he was alive, Mr. Hooper often had his name pronounced by Big Bird as "Mr. Looper", to which Mr. Hooper would constantly correct him.
"That's Hooper! HOOPER!"
The Annals of Improbable Research article "The Missed Education of Harold Dowd" is mostly written in these.
"I'm truly greatful for the opportunity to conceal my views on such an importunate topic, especially considering that your steamed author is a steamed high school dropout."
A popular feature in Punch throughout its run, sometimes attributed to the original Mrs Malaprop herself as a columnist.
The first line of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale", Skip the light fandango is a malapropism of Trip the light fantastic.
Frank Zappa often uses a rather unusual version of English in his songs, mainly to make the lyrics fit the music better. One particularly egregious example is the chorus to his song "Zomby Woof":
Tellin' ya all the zomby troof!
Here I'm is, the Zomby Woof!
The Bob & Ray character of "Word Wizard" Elmer Stapley was given to this trope.
Brazilian Dudu Schechtel is infamous for this, to the point he is victim of Person as Verb by his workmates as a synonym for malapropers. The most infamous cases are him telling that tried to buy a lasagna in a drugstore, and saying that "If you leave the fridge on, your phone bill will skyrocket!" (the show's production replied by doing a sketch where his fridge left him a message on the answering machine reminding Dudu that it was on without reason)
Emil Bollenbach, a Mad Scientist from several Ravenloft adventures, has a bad habit of mixing up common figures of speech.
Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare was fond of having characters, especially lower-class characters who speak in prose, use a number of malapropisms (long before Sheridan was even born).
Constable Elbow in Measure for Measure. The babbling constable was a fairly common device in plays of the time, commenting on the fact that it was difficult to get competent people to fill law enforcement positions, due to the low pay.
Amateur thespians and simple tradesmen Quince, Flute, and Bottom the Weaver from A Midsummer Night's Dream speak almost entirely in these.
In Sheer Madness, a policeman makes mistakes like "individualistically" for "individually" and "psychotic" for "psychic". (Note: The show does not follow the exact same script every time, being interactive with the audience and partly improvised.)
Ivy: Oh, I know. I'm gonna be arrested for disnuding in public.
In Trial By Jury, the Plaintiff's Counsel objects: "To marry two at once is Burglaree!"
In Avenue Q, Rod panics when he realizes just how transparent his closet is to all of his friends, and starts singing very quickly and loudly about his "girlfriend who lives in Canada," named Alberta, who lives in Vancouver. (He takes maybe one breath before he finishes the song.) At one point, singing too quickly, he messes up:
"I love her - I miss her - I can't wait to kiss her - so soon I'll be off to Alberta - I mean Vancouver - (aside) shit, her NAME is Alberta, she LIVES in Vancou- she's my girlfriend! My wonderful girlfriend! Yes I have a girlfriend! Who lives! In! CANADA!"
In Paint Your Wagon, Jennifer tries to tell her father that she's not a child anymore, but can't hide her lack of education: "I'm a growed-up person. I'm feelin' more adulterous all the time!" He gives her a stunned look, then quietly tells her it's not the right word. This is given an echo in a later scene, where Jennifer returns all schooled up, and her father scolds her, "What do you think, just because you're almost eighteen you've reached the age o' maternity?" To which Jennifer replies as he did to her earlier malaproper.
In Wicked, Madame Morrible and other Ozians sometimes don't get words right. Some examples are "disgusticified" and "braverism."
In Super Robot Wars Original Generation, Bullet Luckfield has a terrible habit of screwing up Japanese idioms, as it's not his native language. This is not helped by the fact that a fellow American keeps supplying him with intentionally bad idioms.
Not to mention Excellen "Float like a flutterby, sting like a flea" Browning.
Abercrombie Fizzwidget of Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando was a caricature of this. Although it is revealed at the end that Captain Qwark was impersonating him the whole time; the real Abercrombie Fizzwidget speaks perfect English. Qwark was trying to impersonate someone with a larger vocabulary than his own, and all his attempts to complexitize his languification resulted in confusified speechitude.
In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, early-game boss/job contact Lukan the Witless has this as his shtick. If you're wondering about the epithet, he named himself that — for he is merciless and without humor, thus, Wit-less. Attempts to correct his abuse of the English language are met with obliviousness or initiation of combat, depending on how blunt you are.
Half the fun of the otherwise Surprisingly Good English in Metal Wolf Chaos is the President of the United States' awkward one-liners. This includes such gems as "I'll make you just like perforated cheese!" and was entirely unintentional.
The Heavy Weapons Guy in Team Fortress 2, being a stereotypical Russian, has a fairly good grasp of English that fails him when he gets excited. Probably the most egregious instance is his mangling of "That's a real kneeslapper" to "That slaps me on the knee".
Barnum of Fable II puts a bit too much stock in his trusty thesaurus without understanding the meaning or nuances of many of the words he tosses about.
He gets better, though, Riiight before Reaver removes a vital portion of his brain and decorates his house with it
In Star Control 3, the K'Tang. Every chance they get. "We are the K'Tang! Identificate yourselves imminently!"
Professor Ort-Meyer in the first Hitman game mangles his metaphors horribly ("I was standing on the shoulders of midgets!" for example), nearly (due to cuts in the production process) causing the protagonist to remark "Madness and mixed metaphors. There's really no hope for him." (The quote can be found in game files, but doesn't appear in the game proper.)
Redd White from Ace Attorney, who would bungle words in order to make himself seem more impressive.
Zinc Lablanc from Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, being a Punny Derringer, mangles English idiomatic phrases, followed by remarking "Yes, I think that is how you say it!" On one occasion, Edgeworth corrects his use of "Fox in the duck pen!", replying "It's 'fox guarding the henhouse'."
In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the Judge describes himself as "the great Poker-Head of Courtroom No. 3". Apollo thinks he probably meant "poker-face".
Donny, the sign-in guy from the 2011 version of You Don't Know Jack. Older games had "Gibberish Questions" where players tried to translate one into the proper phrase.
The Think Tank from the Fallout: New Vegas add-on, Old World Blues have a problem with this? That's unpossible! Doctor Mobius, however, has it quiet, quiet bad.
"Do flowers of Pock-Lips and NCR bear play together?"
Sister Theohild makes various food-related malapropisms when reciting the Chant of Light in Dragon Age: Origins.
Sister Theohild: Those who bring ham without provocation to the least of His children are breaded and accursed by the Maker. Mother Perpetua: "Those who bring ham"? And the Maker does not bread sinners!
Elizabeth: I believe our encounter has borne much flute.
Elizabeth: ...Flue? ...Chimneys?
Mario himself, aside from the thick Italian accent. In the computer game Mario's FU Ndamentals, he says phrases like: "Great! I'm a liker [name of the game you choose]", "Excellent selection! I'm a always-liker [name of game]" (Mac version only), "You must've make a jump'm now." "Pizza the heck out of me!", "Jamaica the who?", "I'm-a go first.", "I'm-a know!", "I'm-a lost.", "Pirhana Plantae", "Ah...I'm-a guess I'm-a go fishing.", and "Doubles! You get-eh fourth moves!"
Stuffwell of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time has a habit of taking two words, either of which would be perfectly appropriate in-context, and fusing them into strange compound words.
At one point in Final Fantasy V, Bartz mixes up the words "psychically" and "psychotically," to Galuf's embarrassment.
Senor Cardgage on Homestar Runner, who can just never decide on what to say.
Senor Cardgage: Carageenan, Montel John. Can you detect me to the nearest bus stamp?
And then there's Strong Bad, who frequently uses portmanteaus by accident, and mixes up phrases in mid-speech:
Strong Bad: I'm not touching that thing, man; it's booby-trapped! It'll shoot a bunch of poisoned-tipped witch doctors at me!
As often as not, that's from pretending to know what a word means, often in spite of the fact that the word was made up for the setting. A good example is believing that Jedi is a kind of cheese (which eventually turned Jedi Knights into Cheddar Monks).
The Order of the Stick: Belkar mishears "sextant" as "sex taint," which results in him taking Roy to see prostitutes instead of a cartographer.
In Everyday Heroes, Goldie described Jane as having "a black belt in takemdown" (taekwando).
Coyote from Gunnerkrigg Court seems incapable of pronouncing Antimony Carver's name, rendering it as Abalone, Acrimony Barber, or just FireHead Girl. By this point, it may be more of an in-joke than anything else.
Thisxkcd comic coins the term "malamanteau", for a malapropism created by combining two words. (The word is a combination of "malapropism" and "portmanteau", which is a combination of two words in this manner.) As of this writing there's a lengthy discussion on Wikipedia regarding what should be done about the entry (which, like the word itself, did not exist until the comic went up).
Branca Braunstein of Survival of the Fittest is starting to mis-speak a fair bit; mostly because she's deluded herself into believing she is one of her "friends" who is far more upper-class than her, so to speak. This coming directly after Branca killed aforementioned "friend".
Torq, the Half-Orc Fighter of Critical Hit tends to do this with any multi-syllabic words, especially if they come from someone else's mouth first.
Jontron tends to do this in his unscripted videos, namely, those made as part of the Game Grumps.
Jontron:*describing the importance of Kirby obtaining the Hammer ability* We need this, this hits wooden.
The episode of Pokemon The Abridged Series in which the heroes meet Sabrina, the Psychic Gym Leader, saw malapropisms of such words as "psychopath" and "psychic-ologist", much to the annoyance of Brock.
All the babies in Rugrats do this, even the more mature Angelica. Most of the babies' internal logic in this show was based on malapropisms and the sheer willingness of everyone else to believe they were telling the truth.
Doc from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs does this when he gets flustered. This was a specialty of comedian Roy Atwell, who voiced the character for the film.
Jim Moralès from Code Lyoko. Sissi delves into this too.
Total Drama's Lindsay does this mainly with names ("Kyle" for Chris, "Doug" for Duncan, and so on) and occasionally with other words (e.g. "dental" for "mental") as one of the most high-profile elements of her Dumb Blonde stereotype. Beth also got into the act when she first arrived on the island and told Chris, "It's so incredulous to meet you!"
Bugs Bunny is occasionally prone to being one of these, although it's usually a matter of him mispronouncing words rather than using the wrong ones.
"What a maroon!"
"What an "im-BEH-cile", what an ultra maroon! (Bully For Bugs)
"What is this, a blackout? I didn't hear no sireen!" (Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk)
"I got an athlete's fizzy-cue." (Tortoise Wins By a Hare)
"Yoo-hoo! Mr. Pie-rate!" (Buccaneer Bunny)
"It's about time for me to employ a little stragedy." (Bunny Hugged)
"Bon voyagey!" (any cartoon with a simulated sail-off)
"Like the Romans say, E Pluribus Uranium! (Roman Legion Hare)
"I am a little fat-i-gyoo-d" ("Transylvania 6-5000")
in another short, he says that a bullet must have "ricoshateted"
Red Hot Ryder, the dimbulb from Buckaroo Bugs, doesn't so much deliver a malapropism as it is a non-sequitur:
Bugs: (holding a carrot like a gun against Ryder's butt) Stick 'em up! Or I'll blow your brains out!
Ryder: Well, that's mighty neighborly of ya!
In "French Rarebit," Bugs tours Paris to see the "mon-sewers and madam weasels."
In Falling Hare, he learns that:
"The constant menace to pilots are the gremlins who wreck planes with their 'dia-bo-LI-cal saba-tagey'".
In Ali Baba Bunny, the thug guarding the treasure of Ali Baba is prone to this, repeatedly botching the phrase "Open Sesame" to enter the magic cave:
"Uh, Open Sasparilla? Open Saskatchewan? Open Septuagenarian? Open Saddlesoap?"
Arch from the 1946 Sniffles cartoon "Hush My Mouse", who was a cartoon version of Ed Gardner's character Archie from the radio show Duffy's Tavern ("Well, if it ain't Eddie G. Robincat in the flesh and fantasy!")
In another, Sniffles mispronounces "etc." (et cetera) in one scene, or rather, he pronounces it exactly as it appears.
Porky the Wrestler grappler Hugo Bernowskiwoskimowskiskowski:
In one episode, the Eds play a game of Truth or Dare and end up acting like one of the other Eds. Eddy ends up acting like Edd, and tries to make himself sound smarter by using large words. Of course, since his vocabulary isn't as good as the real Edd's, he ends up making a lot of malapropisms.
The Powerpuff Girls episode "Telephonies" has the Gangreen Gang in the Mayor's office making prank phone calls at the cost of the dignity of Mojo Jojo, Fuzzy Lumpkins and Him until they've had enough and call the Mayor for action:
Big Billy: Hullo?
Him: Let me speak with the Mayor!
Big Billy: Uh, he's not in right now. Can I take a massage?
On Animaniacs, Wakko Warner was prone to these. He once shouted at a man whom he thought was a magician to "pull a rabbit out of your pants!" (Then again, Wakko was also a Cloudcuckoolander, so according to his thought processes, that might not even count as a mistake.) He and siblings also mispronounce longer words like skulecatary for secretary and "p-sychiatrist" for psychiatrist.
In early episodes the kids had trouble pronouncing long words, like hermaphrodite.
Also, in Officer Barbrady's debut in "Chickenlover", when admitting that he can't read, he exclaims "I'm illegitimate!"
Goof Troop. Goofy and Pete are both habitual Malapropers. Goofy would typically use real words that were the wrong word ("decimated driver", "you're historical"), but Pete would do a mix of that, mixing two words together, and giving an incomprehensible phrase such as "Do as I think not mean what I say." To hilarious effect in the second episode, when their sons emulated their fathers' behavior so that they would be allowed to be friends, PJ (who is typically rather eloquent) incorporated the malapropisms.
Pistol did this in at least one episode, when she mentioned Amelia "Airhead" as an example of girls who can fly.
From the Popeye cartoon "The Natural Thing To Do":
Olive: Er...let's converse.
Bluto: Hey! I hear conversing is comin' back!
Popeye: Yeah. And convoisin' breaks up the monopoly of not talkin'!
In Real Life, the second type of this (substitution of similar sounding words) can occur with a condition called paraphasia.
Comedian Norm Crosby has made a career (or, more recently, an annual Jerry Lewis Telethon appearance) of the art of the carefully mis-chosen word.
The Grand Master Malaproper of all time is baseball legend Yogi Berra:
On why, despite a lack of managerial experience, he thought he could be successful during his first year as a baseball manager: "You can observe a lot by watching."
Advice given to a young player who had unsuccessfully adopted the batting style of a well-known veteran: "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."
On the occasion of "Yogi Berra Day" at Sportsman's Park in his native St. Louis: "I'd like to thank all those who made this day necessary."
Much of what has been attributed to him is probably apocryphal. In his own words: "I really didn't say everything I said."
Another baseball legend given to this was Casey Stengel, hence the term "Stengelese":
"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
"All right, everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height."
Whatever you might think of the man himself, there's no denying that George W. Bush is somewhat prone to this.
It seems to be a Bush administration tradition, since VP Dan Quayle was much the same under George H. W. Bush, coining such gems as "Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things," and "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made." Bush the Elder himself made a few howlers, too; the term "Bushisms" was already a colloquialism before his son even thought of running for office.
"People that had been trained in some instances to disassemble. That means not tell the truth."
"I know how hard it is to put food on your family."
British sports commentator David Coleman was very prone to malapropisms, to the point where Private Eye named a regular column of gaffes "Colemanballs". Coleman has since retired; as long as public figures put their feet in their mouths, or sport commentating exists, "Colemanballs" will live on.
Two of his most famous slip-ups were "Harry Commentator is your carpenter" and "I'm glad to say that this is the first Saturday in four weeks that sport will be weather-free."
Speaking of "Colemanisms", the term has also been applied to longtime San Diego Padres baseball announcer Jerry Coleman:
"He's throwing up in the bullpen."
"He slides into second with a stand-up double."
"He swings and misses, and it's fouled back into the stands."
"Winfield goes back to the wall, he hits his head on the wall, and it rolls off! It's rolling all the way back to second base. This is a terrible thing for the Padres."
This was a popular character trait during the old-time radio comedy era. Fibber McGee, Phil Harris, Gracie Allen, and Amos & Andy, and Archie (from Duffy's Tavern) are good examples.
Montreal Canadiens coach and later sports commentator Jean Perron was so notorious for this that malapropisms and mixed metaphors are called "perronismes" in Quebec French.
Possibly "Eight Days a Week", although Paul variously attributed the title to Ringo and to a chauffeur. Either way, it's an example of this trope.
Legend has it that he did this so often that, when he was a kid at school, his fellow students would approach him and start conversations with him just to hear him talk.
Unfortunately common all over the world. Scott Adams publishes "Dogbert's New Ruling Class Newsletter" when he feels like it, and a regular feature is a section citing malapropisms and garbled adages which readers heard, mostly from their Pointy-Haired Boss and cow-orkers.
Karl Pilkington, a fellow presenter on "The Ricky Gervais Show" often confused expressions and pronunciations, usually by embellishing details and not following the original news sources correctly
Finnish ski jumper Matti Nykänen is known for many things, among them malapropisms and other rather interesting quotes. For instance, he has spoken of a "bon voyage-feeling — a feeling of having experienced something before", and estimated his chances as being "fifty-sixty".
My Immortal. Listed under Real Life rather than Fan Fic because it's not the characters who keep screwing up long words (well, they do too, by extension), it's the author. Often results in a dirty word being inadvertently turned into something clean... or vice versa.
Let's face it, any kind of electronic spellchecker can do this to, well, anyone. Theirs a reason people tell you to rede over you're work after you spell cheque, yes?
During moral panics about pedophilia, offices of children's doctors (pediatricians) have been vandalized, and literature connected with teaching (pedagogy) has been attacked. As if criminal pedophiles would announce themselves like that.
The criminally ignorant need no introduction.
An Urban Legend rather than an actual occurrence, but George Smathers was reported as having slammed Claude Pepper during one race: supposedly he said: "Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy." This isn't a malapropism, though; the person who wrote the supposed speech was using exactly the correct words.
Thomas "Mumbles" Menino, the former Mayor of Boston, is infamous for this sort of thing (along with the fact that you can barely tell what he's saying in the first place). The more famous ones are him calling Boston's parking shortage "An Alcatraz around my neck" and referring to a former mayor as "A man of great statue." Then there was the time he referred to Patriots player Rob Gronkowski, popularly known as Gronk, as Gonk.
Ursula Pendragon-White, who appeared at least twice in the memoirs of Gerald Durrell. Perhaps the mildest screwups mentioned were talking about a woman who wanted an ablution to avoid having an illiterate baby (which sounds like Unfortunate Implications until you consider that "illiterate" is being used instead of "illegitimate") and ordering a "graffiti with ice".
When prince Willem-Alexander of Orange was in Mexico during an official tour in early November 2009, he managed to mangle the Mexican proverb "Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente" (Translated literally as "The prawn who sleeps gets dragged away by the current", in context it would be something like "You snooze, you lose") as "Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la chingada" (Replace "dragged away by the current" with "ends all fucked up"). And while both phrases are often interchangeable, the latter is actually something you wouldn't use in these kinds of situations due to "Chingada" being a truly offensive word in Mexican Spanish. But that didn't stop the crowd from taking it as a joke.
Milous Jakes, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, was target of jokes due to this. From The Other Wiki:
He gained unwanted fame through his famous speech addressed to local party workers in Červený Hrádek close to Plzeň. When speaking about the necessity of Gorbachev-inspired "perestroika", he presented himself and the party as a lonely fence-post being allegedly left alone to overcome the hardships. On the same occasion he mistook the word broiler (type of chicken) for boiler and spoke in an embarrassingly familiar way about some official Czech pop music singers when pointing to their allegedly super-high incomes ("Nobody of us earns so much!").
In a video that went severe Memetic Mutation in Brazil involving a cancelled autograph session by Restart, an angry girl calls the thing a "puta falta de sacanagem". In English, it would be like: "great fuck-up" + "lack of respect" = "great lack of fuck-up".
Sacanagem really indicates an intentional act of disrespect. Also, puta is a somewhat heavy expletive. So, it means something like "A f***ing lack of assholery".
Also from Brazil, Vicente Matheus, who managed local team Corinthians, was prone to gems such as "Who's in the rain is to get burned!", "It was a result that both Greeks and Napolitans (Trojans) liked" and "A player needs to be like a duck, who is an animal both aquatic and grasstic."
The example of this trope everyone thinks of in the UK is Murray Walker who commentated on Formula One and other motorsports between 1950 and 2001. He became very beloved and popular not only for how enthusiastic he sounds but also for the amount of gaffes and mistakes he made in the heat of the moment. One of the most well known ones was this gem at Monaco.
''Albereto is coming into the pits and i'm going to stop the startwatch!"
Every Israeli soccer player ever. One of them was so brilliant at it, he got his own talk-show, in which (without realising it) he was the butt of the joke...
Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada, is well known for regular malapropisms whenever he wasn't reading from a prepared speech.
German comedian Otto Waalkes once did a sketch that contains of a speech that is almost nothing but malaprops. And that speech was about - proper use of language.
The late Victor Chernomyrdin, Russian ex-PM. Didn't overtly mangle words, but often failed in combining them into meaningful sentences. Or got completely unexpected effect.
You have to be born in charisma!
There's no better worse than vodka.
My life passed in an atmosphere of gas and oil.
We've never seen such things, and here they go again.
Teachers and doctors need to eat, too. Almost every day.
Principles that were important, were unimportant.
Russia is a continent. China is not.
Most quoted: Wanted to do better, but did as always.
Lebednote general, opposition politician, name translates as "swan"and Grachevnote defense minister, name derived from "rook"are like two birds who can't get along in the same bear-hole.
Mike Tyson has had many hilarious malapropisms:
"Hannibal, he rode elephants into Cartilage."
"I guess I'll fade into Bolivian."
Football player Franck Ribéry is this in France. His grammatically dubious, stereotypically low-brow statements have come to be known as "ribérysmes", achieving Memetic Mutation.
During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he once referred to the Togolese team as "Tongolese".
"The Stade Vélodrome note the home stadium of the Olympique de Marseille, like, say, Old Trafford is for Manchester United is a stadium that's always full, whether at home or away!"
"Imma fuck your mom, cousin!" ("J'te nique ta mère direct, cousin!")note "cousin" being used in French slang in a similar way as the N-word can be in its other usage
"Finland is always a place I like to come." ("La Finlande, c'est toujours un endroit que j'aime bien venir.")
"It's a game played in two games."
"Unconsciously, you can't fall asleep."
"I think we hope we're going to win."
Misuse of the word "Decimate" note (To reduce by 1/10th, from the roman punishment for cowardice, "Decimation" which involved killing every tenth man in a unit where even a single man fled from the enemy) has become so widespread that it has recently become known as a synonym for "Devastate" which is what most people actually mean when they use that word.
Presidential candidate Ségolène Royal has become infamous for this. On a pre-campaign trip to China, while visiting the Great Wall, she remarked upon the "bravitude" of the Chinese people. It doesn't make any more sense in French than it does in English. More Joe Biden than Dan Quayle, though, as whatever you think of her policies she's actually fairly well-spoken on the whole.
On the other hand, Edith Cresson, Prime Minister of France at roughly the same era Dan Quayle was VP, infamously stated, completely deadpan:
"The majority of men in Anglo-Saxon countriesnote read: the UK and US are homosexual — maybe not the majority, but in the USA there's already 25% of them and in England and Germany it's nigh the same." This is usually remembered, especially by the British press, as "One in four Englishmen are homosexual." Keep in mind this was 1991.
"The Japanese are like incredible yellow ants." While on a state visit to Japan. This was ostensibly meant as a compliment to illustrate the strength of the Japanese economy and perceived work ethic in the early 90's (itself rife with Unfortunate Implications), but obviously just came across as mind-numbingly racist, even when most quotes leave out the "yellow" bit. Although she was PM for about a year, all that many in France remember of her, if anything, are the above statements, and she's perceived as so incompetent that there's even a somewhat widely-held belief that she only got the job due to being President Mitterrand's mistress. As she was the only female Prime Minister in French history, this is usually stated with sexist undertones, but considering we're talking about FrançoisMitterrand here, it may not have been inaccurate.