Malapropism is one of my favorite words. It sounds like a deadly disease for old boats, but it means you said something that was really close to – but not quite – the word you meant … and people laughed.
Named for Mrs. Malaprop, the character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play, “The Rivals,” the most commonly identified malapropisms come from literature (for comedy) and the world of the rich and famous (for a different kind of comedy).
Unfortunately, the hilarity of poor word choice is lost on the world of the busy and working.
So many words are so close, but not right – and that can jeopardize a lot more than your ego if you make one of these errors in a professional setting.
Word choice can make or break a sale, a piece of marketing or an email to the boss.
These commonly incorrect word choices have two dangerous characteristics: they sound or look very similar to the correct word, and spell-check usually won’t catch them, because they are all real words.
If not corrected, frequent mistakes such as these could give the impression that, for you, close enough is good enough. If you’re worried about these kinds of mistakes slipping through the cracks, we’d be happy to help!
Here are a few unfunny mistakes I’ve heard or seen recently. Can you spot the errors?
1. Rose makes spinach lasagna with a blend of mozzarella and regatta.
A regatta is a boating competition. Ricotta is an Italian cheese often used in lasagna.
2. Just as he was ready to leave, Bob realized he had displaced his wallet during the day.
Displaced means one thing was moved when something else forcibly took its place. Bob probably misplaced his wallet, which will be lost until he remembers where he put it.
3. She follows a strict training regiment so she’ll be ready for the marathon in August.
A regiment is a combination of military battalions. A regimen is a systematic plan.
4. The mail delivery riled up the dog every morning, but delivery trucks didn’t phase him.
A phase is an aspect or stage. To faze is to embarrass or disturb.
5. The consultant was able to keep an objectionable point of view since the decision wouldn’t affect him either way.
Objectionable means disagreeable or offensive. Objective, in this case, would mean he was able to guard his perspective from personal bias.
Have you seen or heard any word choice blunders recently? Let us know in the comments below.