Updated: Nov 18, 2022
We all say the wrong thing sometimes. A flubb, a typo or an autocorrect. Even an intentional derangement of words to which we doff our hats.
But when it's a clear error due to confusion or misunderstanding, it's pretty cringe-inducing.
Here are five hilarious examples of malapropisms (incorrect word use in place of words that sound similar) that caused the world to sit up and laugh.
1. Sarah Palin: "Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate."
Not only is this a glaring mistake (she meant repudiate, but seems to have cross-bred it with refute?) by Palin, but she intentionally re-iterated it, and defended her error as just part of the glorious evolution of English (with a comparison to Shakespeare that makes you want to curl up and cry):
2. Justin Bieber: “I’m not going for the Sixteenth Chapel look."
In a 2012 interview with David Letterman, Bieber agreed to not go overboard with tattoos, promising “I’m not going for the Sixteenth Chapel look.”
We laughed, but we also felt his pain. And art is subjective after all.
3. Dan Quayle: "Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child."
Well before Bondage-Gate, Dan Quayle exposed the US Republican party to many a quip about their family values with this embarrassing gaffe.
(Yep, this is the same guy who tried to correct a 12-year-old student on their perfect spelling of "potato".)
4. George W. Bush: “They misunderestimated me."
Oh George. You were history's best example of a POTUS we loved to hate... (*no comment - Ed), but seemed a kinda fun guy to hang out with, if you like hanging with that guy that's happy to be told "no, dude, we're laughing WITH you".
On the eve of one of history's most controversial US elections, George Double-ya claimed not merely that his opponents had misunderstood or underestimated him, but had somehow done both in this accidentally-coined neologism that would set up word-nerds to collect 'Bushisms' for years to come. (See some of his greatest hits here.)
5. Mike Tyson: "I'm fading into Bolivian."
After eight brutal rounds with heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, ESPN's Jeremy Schaap asked Tyson about his future, and he responded with this beauty, exposing him to much tongue-in-cheek speculation about his use of ... lines.