Tuesday, August 2, 2022

How’s that again? plus rhyming foods

Do you know what a malapropism is? According to Wikipedia, it is "the mistaken use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, sometimes humorous utterance." In my own words, a malapropism occurs when a person uses a word in a spoken or written sentence that is almost the right word, but wrong. The term can be traced to a character, Mrs. Malaprop, in The Rivals, a play written in 1775 by Richard Sheridan.

Here are some malapropisms I have either heard with my own two ears or been told by someone else who heard it with his or her (notice that I do not say their) own two ears. All of the following are actual instances from real life. There is not a made-up malapropism in the lot.

At a Christian concert, my son was playing saxophone in the band for a female singer fairly well known in Christian circles when she urged the college-aged audience to get up out of their chairs and give Jesus a standing ovulation.

A 94-year-old friend, Rosemary L., asked our mutual friend Sharon S. to take her to the mall because she wanted to get a manicure and a pedophile.

A friend of mine wrote on Facebook during Holy Week this year, "Let us be reminded Jesus died on that cross but He arose on the third day and now sets on the right hand of the Father, making intersections for us."

Those are all hilarious. The following, which all occurred during the last two weeks, are more mundane:

"The objection of this game is to..."

"This song really resignated with me"

"In these stories there is a concurring theme"

"Silence is an omission of guilt"

The words for which these people were searching but didn't quite find were ovation, pedicure, intercession, object, resonate, recurring, and admission. People make this type of mistake so frequently that it has practically become an epidemic. There was a time when I would have corrected them all but I don't do that any more. I just commit them to memory. Maybe I have become part of the problem.

Way back in 1967 I heard Blanche D., a woman in Poughkeepsie, New York, say "Before I spend that kind of money on a cruise I want to know what it would curtail". She meant entail, of course, and my hobby of listening for malapropisms was launched.

Enough about malapropisms. Here's a game we can all play.

A few nights ago on Wheel Of Fortune, in a category called Rhyming Foods, the puzzle turned out to be "chickpeas and cheddar cheese". Host Pat Sajak, quick wit at the ready, wisecracked that it was much better than his suggestion, "edamame and hard salami". He set me to thinking about other foods that rhyme and I came up with these:
  • collard greens and garbanzo beans
  • chocolate cake and sirloin steak
  • leg of lamb and strawberry jam
  • rigatoni and sliced baloney
  • étouffée and crème brûlée
  • shish kabob and corn on the cob
  • beanie weenie and veal scallopini
What rhyming foods can you think of?

I leave you with a photograph of actress Louisa Lane Drew as Mrs. Malaprop in an 1895 production of The Rivals:


  1. I'm coming up with nothing. I must be slipping.

  2. Several years back, when we still lived more rurally (is that a word?), as we were driving past a pea field being harvested by several large pieces of farm machinery, my mother exclaimed, "Look at the concubines working in that field!" Needless to say, we teased her often about THAT one!! Sweet potato and sliced tomato? Apple pie and fresh fish fry? Hot dog and Ants-on-a-log?

    1. Pam,that's a good one about the concubines. Loved it! Potato-tomato is an easy one, but you pulled a new one on me with Ants-on-a-log as I have never heard of it before. At a family get-together recently I saw the lady who had said Jesus was in heaven making intersections for us. This time she mentioned looking through a kadiddlescope and I instantly thought of Red Skelton's character, Clem Kadiddlehopper. Never a dull moment if you keep your ears open!

    2. Bob! You mean you and Mrs. Ellie never gave your kids Ants-on-a-Log??? Tsk. Tsk. It's not too late....short pieces of fresh celery with peanut butter and ants! (ok, we used raisins.....) :-)

  3. you have some great malapropisms there! I think these days autocorrect produces a large number of them.

    In my house we still laugh at "bicyclist" and "Canadia"
    Well, those aren't actually malapropisms.........

    1. kylie, sorry for my delay in acknowledging your comment. Somehow it slipped my attention. You make a good point about autocorrect; it infuriates me on a regular basis.


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