Musings and Amusings

Heh, you couldn’t resist that title, could you?

That’s ok. I couldn’t resist this little gem of a book:

Hell in a Hen

Malapropism: a word or phrase that has been mistaken for another, usually because of its sound rather than its meaning.

Some of you already knew what a malapropism is. I know one when I see it, but I didn’t know until now what it is called.

Most likely all of us have misspoken or written a malapropism because we were too young to differentiate between like-sounding words; we misheard song lyrics; or we were too busy ‘exercising our demons’ to pay attention.

According to my new dictionary, the blogging world has exponentially increased the (presumably unintended) use of both well-known and previously undocumented malapropisms. Rubin’s book consists of 216 pages of malapropisms, including Rubin’s short explanation of the misused phrase followed by a real world example he’s found in electronic media.

I decided to answer Sylvia’s 5 Photos 5 Days Challenge by playing with a few malapropisms. The rules for the Challenge are to (1) post a photo each day for 5 consecutive days (2) include a snippet of writing – fiction, nonfiction, poetry (3) nominate a blogger each day to carry on the challenge. I nominate all bloggers who wish to accept the challenge.

My first photo is one of many shrub shots taken while practicing with my new camera.


I looked in my dictionary to see what interesting B for Berry malapropism I could find. None.

How about ‘off the beat and path’?

From going to hell in a hen basket:

A ‘beat’, the sort that a cop patrols, is a regular routine, so ‘beat and path’ makes some sense and might actually improve on the clichéd phrase ‘off the beaten path’. Also confused with ‘offbeat’, a musical term.

We are life long travelers and both prefer the off the beat and path locations where you can settle in and relax and that is what we tried to create for you.” 5 Jun 2014

This will be a week of malapropisms – let me know your own favorites! I’ll have comments ‘on’ but please don’t feel obligated to comment every day!


“Butt naked?”

YOU look it up!”

Comments on: "Is It Buck Naked or Butt Naked?" (49)

  1. Hehe. As an English-as-a-foreign-language person those are highly amusing to me. Will keep up with the developments.

  2. When I saw the title, I thought “uh oh, I may have to pretend to have missed this one…” I love books about words and phrases. I might have to put this one on my wish list. I look forward to the next several days.

  3. Sounds like a very entertaining read … and it actually caused me to stop and think about which one was right. I had to look it up!!! 😀

  4. (Sigh) No one has ever, or will ever, exceed George Bush for malapropisms. My personal favorite:

    “It will take time to restore chaos and order.”

  5. cardamone5 said:

    Which one is right…off the beaten path or off the beat and path?

    • ‘Off the beaten path’ is the accepted phrase, although the author makes a case for why ‘off the beat and path’ makes sense. That is one reason our language is confusing even for English speakers!

  6. A great topic, for all intensive purposes…

  7. OK, this totally sounds like I book I would love!

  8. It’s kind of satisfying that also people with English as native language are confused over its pecularities sometimes.
    (Just joking)

  9. Other than ‘all intensive purposes’, I can’t think of one now. But I’m sure one will come to me in the middle of the night like so often happens!

    • That’s the beauty of the internet, Carrie. Even at midnight you can get out of bed and post your malapropism. Just make sure it’s not so ‘mind-bottling’ it keeps the rest of us awake!

  10. It’s a moo point for many… too many have no clue of what they are doing! Ironically, just this morning, a friend posted the following on my wall… I’ve stopped twitching now… just barely!

  11. Once again, you have written the post I wish I had written first! I love this topic and your clever spin on the challenge. I don’t know if it is a true malaprop, but what makes me a little crazy is “chomping at the bit.” It’s “champing at the bit” but I’d estimate at least 80% get it wrong. I also love that the word malaprop comes from a character in a book.

    • Well you can write the second 5-day series 😊

      You got me on that one because I would have said ‘chomping at the bit’. You and the author have now set me straight, and he adds that – much like ‘chomp’ is misused for ‘champ’ – we now say ‘stomping our feet’ and it used to be ‘stamp’.

      In Day 5 post I mention a quote by Ms Malaprop and the playwright who invented her.

  12. I saw a greeting card captioned thus: “It Buck Naked or Butt Naked?” over the image of two old gals having tea, one looking beseechingly at the other. Open the card and it says, “I’m so glad you are my friend. I don’t have anyone else to turn to with questions like this!”

    Off the beat and path is pretty darn fine, if you were to ask me. Oh wait, you did ask me. Well, then, thanks for asking!

    • Ha Ha, Maggie! Great card. If you see those gals while you’re hunting minerals off the beat and path, ask ’em if they’ve figured it out!

  13. Oh I am going to enjoy these posts (and the comments). As a ‘proper’ English speaker I often find it amusing to read differences between our common language anyway, never mind when phrases are star-craving mad 😉

    One thing that really gets my goat these days is the use of OF instead of HAVE. Doesn’t anyone know the difference between a preposition and a verb any more? I have even heard teachers say it incorrectly! I could of murdered a cup of tea – arrghhhh!!!

  14. I love it, Sammy. As a non-native speaker, homophones, malapropism and the like (and who in the world came up with such descriptive words?) were and still are — to some extent — a challenge. In fact, one of the first warnings about the English language was to watch out for the mess they can create. That book looks like something I need. Going to amazon now.
    Excellent topic for the challenge.

    • Obviously, Silvia, even native English speakers often don’t have a clue (including me!). You’ll find out where ‘malapropism’ comes from on Day 5 😊

      It seems, though, we’re moving more towards ‘anything goes’ and away from proper English. I have mixed feelings on that!

      • I have mixed feelings on that, too, Sammy, especially when it comes to the written word. Written language evokes eternal beauty, and transgressing on that beauty is a shame.

      • It’s incentive to continue writing narratives and essays with more formal (but not pretentious) language. We have delicious-to-roll-off-the-tongue words that are now rarely used in our vocabulary. I cherish many essayists from the 1950s and 1960s because I cannot read them without a dictionary nearby.

  15. Ah. My great-aunt Rilla would love this. She, who often cautioned us that “tempus fidgets,” and who wanted us to read about the “House of the Seven Grables.” I’ll have to ponder — I know there were more.

  16. Fabulous! What a great post, these things crack me up Sammy. We deliberately say something wrong after a favourite bit in “Friends” – “it’s a moo point, like a cow’s opinion. It doesn’t matter. It’s moo” LOL! 🙂

  17. How exciting having a new camera 🙂 what type is it?

    Off the beaten path is a very good take with the photo I wouldn’t have thought of that. I hope you’re well? Xxx

    • How nice to hear from you, Justine💖 my camera is a Luminex (Panasonic) and I like it but need lots more practice. Autumn will give me good sun angles for photos. Everything is great here, and I hope for you as well.

      • Autumn has some amazing colours i always love this time of year, but then start to panic with christmas looming hehe… comes around sooo fast it seems, dont you think? x

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