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Word of the week: malaphor

The Compartments

A few weeks ago Susie Dent, in her Origin of Words slot on the Channel 4 show “Countdown”, featured the word “malaphor”. It’s a cross between a malapropism and a metaphor, or series of metaphors. Malapropism is a word that I have been aware of since the age of 12 and, unlike zeugma or synecdoche, has always come to mind when needed. I have known, for decades now, that it’s named after the character Mrs Malaprop from Sheridan’s play “The Rivals” (even though I have never seen it), but I needed this definition from the Oxford dictionaries website to confirm that the play was written in 1775. A malapropism is described in that definition as the “mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with an amusing effect (e.g. ‘dance a flamingo’ instead of flamenco)”.

Malaphors do a similar thing, with metaphors instead of…

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