Malaprops: Words with the same stem 2 Malaprops: Words with the same stem 2

(Photo right) Louisa Drew plays Mrs. Malaprop in a late 19th C production of Richard Sheridan's play, The Rivals. Her grandsons, Lionel and John Barrymore, both made their stage debut in this play. John Barrymore's granddaughter, Drew Barrymore, is named after her great-great grandmother, Louisa Drew. Can you find the malaprops in the dialogue below?

Mrs. MALAPROP: Observe me, Sir Anthony. I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning; I don't think so much learning becomes a young woman; for instance, I would never let her meddle with Greek, or Hebrew, or algebra, or simony, or fluxions, or paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learning—neither would it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathematical, astronomical, diabolical instruments.—But, Sir Anthony, I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding-school, in order to learn a little ingenuity and artifice. Then, sir, she should have a supercilious knowledge in accounts;—and as she grew up, I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries;—but above all, Sir Anthony, she should be mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not mis-spell, and mis-pronounce words so shamefully as girls usually do; and likewise that she might reprehend the true meaning of what she is saying. This, Sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know;—and I don't think there is a superstitious article in it.

From The King's English, by Henry Watson Fowler and Francis George Fowler:


A malaprop is a word used in the belief that it has the meaning really belonging to another word that sounds like it.

Words containing the same stem that cannot be easily distinguished from each other

The long drought left the torrent of which I am speaking, and such others, in a state peculiarly favorable to observance of their least action on the mountains from which they descend.—Ruskin. (observation)
Observance is obedience, compliance, etc. The Oxford Dictionary recognizes observance in the sense of watching. The act of watching is observation.
It is physical science, and experience, that man ought to consult in religion, morals, legislature, as well as in knowledge and the arts.—Morley. (legislation)
Legislature is the legislative body—in England, King, Lords, and Commons. To call back the old confusion is an offense.
The apposite display of the diamonds usually stopped the tears that began to flow hereabouts; and she would remain in a complaisant state until...—Dickens. (complacent)
Our Correspondent adds that he is fully persuaded that Rozhdestvensky has nothing more to expect from the complacency of the French authorities.—Times. (complaisance)
Complaisant is overpolite, flattering, subservient, etc. Complacent means contented, satisfied.
In the spring of that year the privilege was withdrawn from the four associated booksellers, and the continuance of the work strictly prohibited.—Morley. (continuation)
Continuation is the noun of continue, go on with: continuance of continue, remain. With continuance the meaning would be that the already published volumes (of Diderot's Encyclopaedia) were to be destroyed; but the meaning intended is that the promised volumes were not to be gone on with—which requires continuation. Again, the next two extracts, from one page, show Mr. Morley wrongly substituting continuity, which only means continuousness, for continuance.
Having arrived at a certain conclusion with regard to the continuance...of Mr. Parnell's leadership...—Gladstone.
The most cynical...could not fall a prey to such a hallucination as to suppose...that either of these communities could impenitent an affront as the unruffled continuity of the stained leadership.—Morley.
The Rev. Dr. Usher said he believed the writer of the first letter to be earnest in his inquiry, and agreed with him that the topic of it was transcendentally important.—Daily Telegraph.
Transcendently means in a superlative degree: transcendenially is a philosophic term for independently of experience, etc.
Until at last, gathered altogether again, they find their way down to the turf.—Ruskin. (all together)
At such times...Jimmie's better angel was always in the ascendency.—Windsor Magazine.
Was in the ascendant: had an ascendency over.
The inconsistency and evasion of the attitude of the Government.—Spectator.
Evasiveness the quality: evasion a particular act.
The requisition for a life of Christianity is 'walk in love'.—Daily Telegraph.
Requisite or requirement, the thing required: requisition, the act of requiring it.
We will here merely chronicle the procession of events.—Spectator. (progress or succession)
I was able to watch the Emperor during all these interviews, and noticed the forcible manner in which he spoke, especially to the Sultan's uncle, who came from Fez especially.—Times. (specially)
As it stands, it implies that he came chiefly from Fez, but from other places in a minor degree; it is meant to imply that he came for this particular interview, and had no other motive. The differentiation of spec- and espec- is by no means complete yet, but some uses of each are already ludicrous. Roughly, spec- means particular as opposed to general, espec- particular as opposed to ordinary; but usage must be closely watched.
That it occurs in violence to police regulations is daily apparent.—Guernsey Advertiser. (violation of)
In the field it aims at efforts of unexpected and extreme violence; the research of hostile masses, their defeat by overwhelming and relentless assault, and their wholesale destruction by rigorous pursuit.—Times. (discovery)
The object of research is laws, principles, facts, etc., not concrete things or persons. Entomological research, for instance, does not look for insects, but for facts about insects.
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