[After Mrs. Malaprop, a character in The Rivals, a play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, from malapropos.]

Word History: “She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile” and “He is the very pineapple of politeness” are two of the absurd pronouncements from Mrs. Malaprop that explain why her name became synonymous with ludicrous misuse of language. A character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play The Rivals (1775), Mrs. Malaprop consistently uses language malapropos, that is, inappropriately. The word malapropos comes from the French phrase mal à propos, made up of mal, “badly,” à, “to,” and propos, “purpose, subject,” and means “inappropriate.” The Rivals was a popular play, and Mrs. Malaprop became enshrined in a common noun, first in the form malaprop and later in malapropism, which is first recorded in 1849. Perhaps that is what Mrs. Malaprop feared when she said, “If I reprehend any thing in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!”


I was thinking of two of my favorites (one from Grandma this weekend) and looked up the word to see where it was from. I thought the results were interesting enough to share (emphases mine).

And now the two stories:

Last Saturday (when I was hanging out with Gma at the hospital) the nurse was giving her a “chin-up” talk, trying to encourage her, and ended with, “Best to just get it started so we can get it over with.” Grandma nodded and said,

“My sediments exactly.” I couldn’t help laughing (you’ve noticed, I’m sure, things are funniest during stressful times), and leaned down by her ear.

Sediments?” I asked. Grandma laughed and laughed.


Some time ago now (Melody’s first summer) I came back from the Saturday service at Door of Hope, and after putting the kids to bed decided I wanted some ice cream (this is a very common occurrence).

I asked Jay if he wanted any, and he admirably declined (we’d each had a tiny serving before I ran off to the service). When I returned with a more realistic portion, I expressed my admiration of his strong will, and he admitted that he’d had all he wanted while I was gone.

“I’m sedated,” he said, smiling and rubbing his belly.

So appropriate. But not intentional. We finally decided he meant satiated.

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