More malapropisms


Following my last post, there seems to have been a spate of malapropisms perpetrated (not perpetuated!) by eminent people on radio and television.

The leader of the populist British political party UKIP, Paul Nuttall, described Donald Trump as an anglophobe in a Radio 4 interview, a faux pas that was later reported by both the Daily Mirror newspaper and Independent Television News; and someone whose name I failed to record reported that an action was ‘pampered’ by a decision made elsewhere, when surely the word needed was ‘prompted’.

In two of these three cases (the original one I noted was ‘indictment’ for – presumably – ‘endorsement’) the sense was completely reversed from what – again presumably – was intended, which is worrying for those of us who think, probably wrongly, that public speakers should have an adequate knowledge of the language they are speaking to get their meaning across without the listener having to work hard to disentangle it. The third case is more puzzling, unless it was a momentary blip in the brain-tongue communication channel (after all, both words start with /p/, and contain another ‘p’ in the spelling, and in both cases the second ‘p’ is preceded by an ‘m’).


  1. Could “pampered” have been a mistake for “hampered”?

  2. John –
    Yes, I suppose it could but unfortunately I’ve forgotten the exact context. It would have precisely the opposite meaning, of course – which just goes to show how important it is to be careful in choosing words.

    And last night, I went to a talk in which the speaker used the word “benefactor” when she meant “beneficiary” (of a will).

  3. Maybe the intended word was ‘tempered’?

  4. Martin – You too could be correct – who can tell?

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