Tricky Words: Catachresis and Malapropisms

Disclaimer: Catachresis was the word of the day from Merriam-Webster today.

Anyway, this is a fun little two-dollar word that would be worth ten dollars if you can slip it into a conversation at your next dinner party. It means to use a word incorrectly.

While I was thinking of a few examples of catachresis in action I had to retort to television since I never make mistakes.

Joey: Yeah! She is cool, and she’s so smart! Her mind is totally acrimonious (pronounced amonious, which is in fact not only an example of catachresis but also a malapropism, but more on those later.)

Joey: Hey, if you wanna grab a bite before work we’d better get acrimonious. No? Am I getting close?

I am afraid not, Joey. But thanks for the examples.

I am not sure when I will ever use this word outside of this blog post. Probably only on Jeopardy because that is the only stage where utterly useless knowledge is showcased and glorified.

Me: I’ll take Say Cheese! for $800, Alex.

Alex: Comical Dutch farmers know this cheese is made backwards.

Me: What is Edam? (Chuckle, snort)

Alex: Correct!

Me: I’ll take Granny’s Grammar for $1200.

Alex: Joey Tribbiani’s misuse of acrimonious is an example of this grammatical gaffe.

Me: What is a catachresis? (Crowd goes wild)

I mentioned malapropisms earlier as well. These little guys are when you misspeak and use a similar resounding word to the one you were originally aiming for. Some of my favorites?

For all intensive purposes (For all intents and purposes)

Cover your basis (Cover your bases-plural of base, not basis)

Nip it in the butt (Nip it in the bud)

“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.” -Dan Quayle (Look up bondage if you don’t know why this is funny.)

Have any examples of the aforementioned? Share!


  1. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award « The Interpreter Diaries

  2. Oh the hilarity. I need some more of this in my life.

  3. Pingback: Digital Footprint « roughly translated

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