What's a malapropism and why are these words and phrases so funny? A malapropism is the accidental misuse of a word or phrase by using a similar word or incorrect pronunciation — and the mistakes can be pretty hilarious.
Along with some of the most common examples of malapropisms, we've found some of the funniest internet and famous versions too. An added bonus? We tell you what you should say instead.
Before you see these funny malapropisms, let's cover the pronunciation of this tricky little word. It's pretty simple once you break it down: malapropism is pronounced like "mal-a-PROP-is-um," pronouncing the emphasized syllable like the "prop" you might see in a play.
If you're ever unsure of how to say the word aloud, you can use the term "eggcorn" — a word or phrase that is pronounced incorrectly due to mishearing — instead. The word eggcorn itself is a misinterpretation of the word 'acorn.'
Famous Internet Malapropisms
Despite all of their faults, the internet and social media have given us some seriously laughable moments. If you spend enough time on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment section of any social media post, you might discover a few malapropisms on your own. But, we've found a few that have made the internet rounds more than once.
In Some Near (Insomnia)
Ah, Reddit. Our favorite rabbit hole and a great source for internet gold like this. An unfortunate texter was attempting to complain about their insomnia, but took the phonetic spelling one step too far. "In some near. You know, when you can't sleep." Sorry, friend. Did you mean insomnia?
Human Beans (Human Beings)
If you ever want to deep dive into malapropisms, Twitter is a goldmine. One user, in an attempt to encourage kindness, tweeted "at the end of the day, we are all human beans." Though this iteration is somewhat adorable, we're pretty sure they meant to say human beings.
Youth in Asia (Euthanasia)
Imagine cramming all night to finish a research paper only to realize you misheard the title topic. One user actually wrote a report on youth in Asia when he was supposed to be covering a topic on euthanasia.
Hilarious Malapropisms From TV Shows
Sitcoms have given us belly laughs for a long time. But the endearing characters in some of our favorite sitcoms often give us giggles when they misuse or mispronounce words. These are some of the most hilarious malapropisms from TV shows.
A Moo Point (Moot Point)
Friends fans know and love this malapropism from kind-hearted Joey Tribbiani: "If he doesn't like you, this is all a moo point." We know he should have used the correct term "moot point." But we also think his explanation of the "moo point" was pretty logical: "it's like a cow's opinion. It doesn't matter."
The Show Must Go Wrong (Go On)
Another beloved character with a heart slightly bigger than his brain, Andy Dwyer from Parks & Recreation gave us countless funny quotes. Sweet Andy meant to say "the show must go on," but gave us instant giggles with his declaration that "the show must go wrong."
One of the funniest running gags in Raising Hope was Virginia's constant mispronunciation of words. In an attempt to sound intelligent, she usually pronounced words incorrectly — ah, sitcom irony. She explained, with all seriousness, that "a baby will dramastically change your life." Though she clearly meant to say drastically, we think she has a point with her inclusion of "drama."
Cute Malapropisms From Kids
One of the best parts about having or being around children is the laughs they bring. The things they say can be absolutely hilarious, even when they have no intention of trying to be funny. These malapropisms from kids are as cute as they are funny.
To be fair, we think "handerburger" makes a lot more sense than the correct pronunciation. Kids have a few funny mispronunciations for hamburger, but we think "I want ketchup on my handerburger" is the cutest.
Properly pronouncing your favorite food as a kid can be tough, especially if it's spaghetti. "Mom said we're having scabetti for dinner" sounds more like an interesting relative is coming over. "Pascetti" and "Bacetti" are also common mispronunciations of the Italian dish.
Hanitizer (Hand Sanitizer)
Your kids taking hygiene seriously is a win! But, the way they pronounce some of the hygiene products might have you laughing. We've heard of some kids saying "I need hanitizer to kill the germs" instead of correctly pronouncing hand sanitizer.
The truth is, words can be tough for all of us at times. Some malapropisms are so common because they're words that are easy to mix up. Here are some common malapropisms and their correct pronunciations so you're never caught in an embarrassing moment.
Nip It in the Butt (in the Bud)
No, this commonly used phrase has nothing to do with rear ends. "Nip it in the butt" is supposed to be "nip it in the bud." It's a term coined in horticulture, as nipping the bud of a plant will prevent blooms or fruit.
Doggy Dog World (Dog-Eat-Dog)
We're not opposed to a "doggy dog world," but the phrase is not actually pronounced "it's a doggy dog world." Rather, you're supposed to say "it's a dog-eat-dog world."
All Intensive Purposes (Intents and Purposes)
If you've ever said something along the lines of "for all intensive purposes, the two are one in the same" you might be guilty of one of the most common malapropisms. This one is easy to slip up on because it sounds so similar to the correct pronunciation: "for all intents and purposes."
I Could Care Less (Couldn't)
"I could care less about the movie previews." It sounds right, doesn't it? But we've probably all said this phrase incorrectly at least once. It's actually missing an important conjunction that helps the phrase make much more sense. The phrase, in proper context, says "I couldn't care less about the movie previews."
More Well-Known Malapropisms
Some malapropisms are so famous or so common, you've probably heard them referenced before. These are classic malapropisms we've heard from celebrities, literature, and other people just like us.
Lack Toast (Lactose)
You may have heard someone say: "I'll have to skip the ice cream since I'm lack toast intolerant." We're not sure how this confusion with lactose happened, but it's become a malapropism we use just to be funny now.
Huckleberry Finn was somewhat famous for his malapropisms. Perhaps the most memorable was the proclamation "I was most putrified with astonishment." This mix up with petrified was Mark Twain's way of adding some humor to the classic tale.
Famous NBA player Charles Shackleford made this endearing claim: "I can dribble with my right hand, and I can dribble with my left hand. I guess I’m amphibious." Of course, he meant to say ambidextrous, but his little slip up was an iconic moment.
Mark Twain wasn't the only writer to include malapropisms as comedic relief. Shakespeare did so long before Twain came long. Much Ado About Nothing gave us malapropisms like this one: "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons." You might catch the double malaprops here: comprehended in place of apprehended and auspicious in place of suspicious.
Much Ado About Nothing's Constable Dogberry gave us a few malapropisms — and that's why the term dogberryism is sometimes still used in place of malapropism.
Have a Laugh at Eggcorns
Though we've listed some pretty common and famous malapropisms, there are certainly countless others. You might even hear a few yourself in everyday conversations. Maybe you've even been guilty of one or two yourself — we have too! More than anything, these eggcorns are just a good reason to have a laugh and try not to take life too seriously.