Malapropisms

 

I used to work with a guy who had a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from a very prestigious university.

When speaking during meetings, he often used the word “incantation” when what he actually meant was “incarnation”. I have no idea why he did this. I don’t think he did it on purpose but the effect on the unwary listener was…hilarious.

On one memorable occasion, he said this: “The product is able to do what you’re describing but it will require a modified incantation.”

Stone. Silence.

Crickets chirping in the distance.

Many worried, sideways glances all around the table.

It was glorious.

Please add your own experiences along these lines in the comments.

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  1. The Great Adventure Coolidge
    The Great Adventure
    @TGA

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    When I had an Android phone, and voice to text was new, the occasional mistranslation might be very interesting. I dubbed these as “Droidian slips”.

    The one that comes to mind, the one when I coined the term, was when I texted my girlfriend “I am coming up to bed”. Droid sent the message “I am coming up to beg”.

    I had one of the first “Voyager” phones from Verizon.  It had the cool voice feature where I could just say “Call XXXX” and it would offer the person’s name from my contacts that most closely matched, and say “Did you mean XXXX?”  I could respond yes and it would call the person or no and it would give up.

    So I flew down to LA on a business trip, and I wanted to call the guy I was meeting up with to let him know I was on the way.  I say to the phone “Call Jose”.  I pronounced it  Hose’ like it’s supposed to be pronounced.  Phone responded “Did you mean Greg Jones?”  I responded “No, call Hose’ “.  “Did you mean Greg Jones?”  Tried this 4 or 5 times and gave up – figured I should pay attention to the LA traffic.

    Then it dawned on me.  “Call Jose”, but this time I pronounced it to rhyme with “chose”.  The phone responds”Did you mean Jose Barajas?” – and she pronounced it  Hose’ .  Stupid flippin technology!!!!!

    • #31
  2. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    hoowitts (View Comment):

    “Oh Master, does a cow have Buddha nature?”

    “Moo.”

    I remember a cow-clock on an episode of “Cheers.”  Lift its tail and it would say, “It’s nooooooon!!”

    • #32
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    And then there is Gregory Benford’s variation: Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

    That I can agree with.

    • #33
  4. Brian Scarborough Coolidge
    Brian Scarborough
    @Teeger

    I worked with a lady who like to “voice-text”, talk into her phone and have her phone make it into a text. She was out of the office and she texted my boss. She said she would clean up the kitchen when she came back that evening. My boss informed her that I had already done it. 

    She wanted to respond, “I will have to thank him later”, but the text came out as “I will have to spank him later”! Sort of a “me too” incident.

    • #34
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I worked with a lady who like to “voice-text”, talk into her phone and have her phone make it into a text. She was out of the office and she texted my boss. She said she would clean up the kitchen when she came back that evening. My boss informed her that I had already done it.

    She wanted to respond, “I will have to thank him later”, but the text came out as “I will have to spank him later”! Sort of a “me too” incident.

    Did you get your spanking?

    • #35
  6. Brian Scarborough Coolidge
    Brian Scarborough
    @Teeger

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I worked with a lady who like to “voice-text”, talk into her phone and have her phone make it into a text. She was out of the office and she texted my boss. She said she would clean up the kitchen when she came back that evening. My boss informed her that I had already done it.

    She wanted to respond, “I will have to thank him later”, but the text came out as “I will have to spank him later”! Sort of a “me too” incident.

    Did you get your spanking?

    I don’t spank and tell.

    • #36
  7. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I worked with a lady who like to “voice-text”, talk into her phone and have her phone make it into a text. She was out of the office and she texted my boss. She said she would clean up the kitchen when she came back that evening. My boss informed her that I had already done it.

    She wanted to respond, “I will have to thank him later”, but the text came out as “I will have to spank him later”! Sort of a “me too” incident.

    I had an Android phone that was in the habit of just choosing someone at random from my contacts and calling them.

    Many years ago I was with all my brothers and sisters on vacation, arguing with a cousin on Facebook. He had replied to me “FFS”.

    We were all trying to figure out the acronym (it’s a point of honor for us to NOT use our phones when we’re sussing out something insignificant and unimportant)

    The very moment I hollered “For F****s Sake” in triumph, I heard “hello? hello? Annie, is that you?” from my phone. My phone had called a long-standing customer; he answered just as I yelled the answer. 

    He’s still a customer, he told me later that he changed my name to FFS in his contacts.

    • #37
  8. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    hoowitts (View Comment):

    A variant I’ve heard is “a mute point.”

    Another favorite: “scrapnel” for bomb fragments.

    • #38
  9. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Annefy (View Comment):
    He’s still a customer, he told me later that he changed my name to FFS in his contacts.

    I might do the same.

    • #39
  10. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    A variant I’ve heard is “a mute point.”

    Another favorite: “scrapnel” for bomb fragments.

    One of the most amazing pieces of trivia I ever learned was that shrapnel was actually named for someone.

    Lt Gen Henry Shrapnel

     

    • #40
  11. hoowitts Coolidge
    hoowitts
    @hoowitts

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Another favorite: “scrapnel” for bomb fragments.

    Never heard this one – sounds like a breakfast meat ;-)

    • #41
  12. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Another favorite: “scrapnel” for bomb fragments.

    And for breakfast.  Mmm.

    • #42
  13. ligneus Member
    ligneus
    @ligneus

    I once worked with a guy building  offices for psychiatrists  which had separate entrances and exits to maintain patients’ privacy, shown on the plans as ingress and egress. 

    He always referred to the egress as a ‘regress’.

    Maybe he was on to something.

    • #43
  14. hoowitts Coolidge
    hoowitts
    @hoowitts

    I just committed one in real time on JoelB’s thread. How embarrassing:

    died-in-the-wool

    Yikes!

    • #44
  15. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    I like the ones that almost make sense.  My first boss used to complain about being “undulated” by paper work.

    I also had a co-worker who would refer to a “mute point”

     

    • #45
  16. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    He’s still a customer, he told me later that he changed my name to FFS in his contacts.

    I might do the same.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what you’re labeled as in people’s phones? My daughter had to change some choice words in her contacts list once her daughters learned to read.

    • #46
  17. ligneus Member
    ligneus
    @ligneus

    ligneus (View Comment):

    I once worked with a guy building offices for psychiatrists which had separate entrances and exits to maintain patients’ privacy, shown on the plans as ingress and egress.

    He always referred to the egress as a ‘regress’.

    Maybe he was on to something.

    Many of these examples are known as ‘eggcorns’, aka acorns.  Mistaken pronunciations which nevertheless make sense, a mute point being a good example.

    • #47
  18. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    Seinfeld had a scene where he argued with Kramer, who was adamant about a “statue of limitations.”

    • #48
  19. davenr321 Coolidge
    davenr321
    @davenr321

    Geotechnical engineering is all about the incantations.

    • #49
  20. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    This post is certainly a shoe-in.

     

    • #50
  21. Podkayne of Israel Member
    Podkayne of Israel
    @PodkayneofIsrael

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    “Tow the line” instead of “toe the line”.

    Lift dat barge, tote dat bale…

    • #51
  22. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    A handful of years ago when I worked with my step-dad every day, I could have given you a number of examples.  I can’t remember any of them now except for saying insinzinations when he meant insinuations. And he likes the word photovoltaic, but he threw a Z in there somewhere.

    He had so many of them that he reminded me of the prison philosopher from the TV show “In Living Color,” who always wanted to sound high-brow but didn’t know what any of the words he was using meant.

     

    • #52
  23. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    hoowitts (View Comment):

    I just committed one in real time on JoelB’s thread. How embarrassing:

    died-in-the-wool

    That would be an unsuccessful wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • #53
  24. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    There is no punk rock album titled “Never Mind the Bullocks”.

    • #54
  25. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    This post is certainly a shoe-in.

     

    I could care less about this post.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • #55
  26. The Great Adventure Coolidge
    The Great Adventure
    @TGA

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    This post is certainly a shoe-in.

     

    I could care less about this post.

     

    That one drives me inane. 

    • #56
  27. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    When one this sentence into German translate wanted, could one the fact exploit, that the word order and the punctuation already with the German conventions agree.

    • #57
  28. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    This post is certainly a shoe-in.

    Some of these malapropisms might provoke someone to put the boot in.

    • #58
  29. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I worked with a lady who like to “voice-text”, talk into her phone and have her phone make it into a text. She was out of the office and she texted my boss. She said she would clean up the kitchen when she came back that evening. My boss informed her that I had already done it.

    She wanted to respond, “I will have to thank him later”, but the text came out as “I will have to spank him later”! Sort of a “me too” incident.

    Did you get your spanking?

    I don’t spank and tell.

    My wife had a problem with typing a message into her cell phone.   Whenever she typed “Veronica,” our youngest daughter’s name, it would be changed to “erotica.”  She would edit it, and it would change to “erotica” again.

    What’s really weird is that when I typed on the same phone, “Veronica” would come out right.  I would hand the phone back to my wife, and if she typed “Veronica” it would still change to “erotica.”

    And this was typing, not talking.

     

    • #59
  30. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I worked with a lady who like to “voice-text”, talk into her phone and have her phone make it into a text. She was out of the office and she texted my boss. She said she would clean up the kitchen when she came back that evening. My boss informed her that I had already done it.

    She wanted to respond, “I will have to thank him later”, but the text came out as “I will have to spank him later”! Sort of a “me too” incident.

    Did you get your spanking?

    I don’t spank and tell.

    My wife had a problem with typing a message into her cell phone. Whenever she typed “Veronica,” our youngest daughter’s name, it would be changed to “erotica.” She would edit it, and it would change to “erotica” again.

    What’s really weird is that when I typed on the same phone, “Veronica” would come out right. I would hand the phone back to my wife, and if she typed “Veronica” it would still change to “erotica.”

    And this was typing, not talking.

    Her phone is putting the moves on her.  Buy her a new one and crush the phone with a hammer (just in case).

    • #60
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