Malaprops, Bushisms & Mondegreens

Recently I read Interesting Literature‘s blog and, as usual, learned a great deal I didn’t know before about words and the world of literature.

Although I had heard of malapropisms and even knew of the their origin in the famous ‘Mrs Malaprop’, I wasn’t aware of their link with Shakespeare. Moreover, the post got me thinking about famous malapropisms and figured they might be fun for post today.

I ended up sucked into a world of Malapropisms, Bushisms and Mondegreens which, for your light entertainment, I shall share with you now.


You can click on the link above to find out the exact meaning and origin of malapropism but basically it is a word very similar to the correct word you wanted but completely wrong in context. The result is, of course, rather humorous. My favourite examples – including from famous people – gleaned from the internet are:

  • Alice said she couldn’t eat crabs or any other crushed Asians. (crustaceans)
  • “And then he [Mike Tyson] will have only channel vision.”
    Frank Bruno, boxer
  • Having one wife is called monotony. (monogamy)
  • “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.”   Richard Daley, former mayor of Chicago
  • He is the very pineapple of politeness. (pinnacle)
  • Flying saucers are just an optical conclusion. (illusion)
  • “This is unparalyzed in the state’s history.”
     Gib Lewis, Texas Speaker of the House
  • In her elastic stockings, next to her very close veins.
  • “Your ambition – is that right – is to abseil across the English channel?”
     Cilla Black
  • I remember because I have photogenic memory. (photographic)
  • “Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”
    Dan Quayle, Vice President


George W. Bush was so famous for his slips of the tongue that he has a whole category of malapropisms and similar accredited to him as ‘Bushisms’.

  • “It will take time to restore chaos and order.”
  • “The law I sign today directs new funds… to the task of collecting vital intelligence… on weapons of mass production.”
  • “They have miscalculated me as a leader.”
  • “I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well.”
  • “We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.”
  • “We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.”


Mondegreens are, if you like, anti-malapropisms. These are things misheard rather than mis-said.

  • “The girl with colitis goes by.”  Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Beatles              (“The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.”)
  • “Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard” Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen                 (“Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me”)
  • “She’s got style, she’s got grace, she’s a wiener..” She’s a Lady, Tom Jones (“She’s got style, she;s got grace, she’s a winner”)
  • “You make the best homemade stew around.” When The World Is Running Down, The Police     (“You make the best of what’s still around.”)
  • “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”  Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix                                (“Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”)
  • This last one I can’t print but will guide you to a story in The Guardian instead about a recent ‘mishearing’ (or more likely a double entendre) on a BBC Radio Four programme. Be warned, don’t go there if you don’t like that kind of thing. I give the link merely to point out the Beeb is not above such things occurring and nor is the Guardian above reporting on it. Rather shockingly, they actually write the ruder version which I was a little shocked at – but then I am a prude…
Sad to say, my family know full well that I am all too skilled at this latter category above. Purely innocently, I’ve reduced everyone in the room to tears before today. As far as I am concerned, of course, it’s simply because everyone else mumbles, so what do they expect?…


This entry was posted in Humour, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Malaprops, Bushisms & Mondegreens

  1. Pingback: Musical Malapropism | Accidentals

  2. Pingback: Musical Malapropism of the Year | Sharp and Pointed

  3. Pingback: Malaprops, Bushisms & Mondegreens | kenthinksaloud | Write Out Loud

  4. Pingback: Mondegreen | Looking Glass Language

  5. Tim Naylor says:

    If I may be so bold as to venture my personal favourite Bushism in which it is alleged he said ” the problem with the French is; they don’t have a word for ‘entrepreneur’!”
    Funny on so many levels!


  6. cmsaunders says:

    Hi Ken! I enjoyed your recent article in Funds for Writers, and had great fun virtually leafing through your blog. Keep up the good work!


  7. Audrey Chin says:

    Snigger, giggle, guffaw! I’m going to link this to my writing group The Story Cartel at google _. Thanks Ken.


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