#26 – Malapropisms

16 11 2009

At some point on the journey from childhood to adulthood, the social power balance shifts. Among 14 year-olds, the superior social animal is the physical specimen: the best looking girl, the top athlete, the guy who manages to combine the boyish good looks of a young Brad Pitt with the unrestrained violence of Mike Tyson. Those whom they lord it over are the nerds. Those who, bereft of the genetic assistance their socially superior peers are blessed with, are forced to adapt to survive. They get smart.

"Hmmm......learn...."Years later, and the power balance has begun to shift. The physical specimens, lacking the need to cultivate an awareness of life, culture, or basic grammar, have found themselves at a disadvantage in the adult world where brains have suddenly and unexpectedly become paramount. That many of these former jocks and glamours have evolved into today’s bogans is unsurprising. Their response to this social shift, however, is. They fake it. By inserting words that sound similar to something they once overheard on the ABC into ordinary sentences, they believe that they can enhance their social standing.

With hilarious results.

The bogan malapropism has evolved into many variants. First is the effective mispronunciation of a common, and ostensibly appropriate word. Common among these are the two classics “for all intensive purposes” and “please be pacific”. However, these are easily remedied, and display at least a grasp of vocabulary, if not spelling.

One of the classic examples, if not strictly a malapropism, is certainly the most common. It is, literally, the misuse of the word ‘literally’. As in “It was so hot yesterday, I was literally on fire” or “I literally died crossing the road this morning”.

Another is more wonderful. It is the use of words that sound impressive, in the hope of slotting unobtrusively into a sentence. Often incorrect, sometimes they are actually complete antonyms of the intended meaning. For a demonstration, let us look no further than one of the commenters that we have (and dearly love) on Things Bogans Like, ‘Chester Ludlow’, discussing the merits of the site:

“The antithesis of “Stuff White People Like”, only lame.”

The prosecution rests, your honour. Except to close by quoting our very own Hunter McKenzie-Smythe: “It’s the double negative logic loop. He’s trying to double his diss, but unfortunately a byproduct of doing that is that the diss has disastrously collapsed in on itself, resulting in fail.”



277 responses

2 03 2010

Police speak: (is it bogan? or just institutionalisedmisuse of tenses?)

“He’s gone into the shop and brandished a weapon. He’s then threatened the staff, taken all the money and he’s left in haste in his white, late model Holden”.

Whats wrong with:
” He went into the shop…. He threatened…he left”

17 03 2010


21 05 2010

Good point Adrian. Every time I hear a news reporter on TV saying he was show-un instead of he was ‘shown’ or he was well know-un instead of ‘known’ it makes my blood boil! For some mysterious reason I just want to slap these bogans across the head.

28 06 2010
miss dahl

The Department of Education decided at one point in recent history to leave out the teaching of (important) areas of our language – simple GRAMMAR. I think we would be challenged to even find a teacher nowadays that even knew what a subjunctive or even a past participle is. Since (they) decided to chop up the English language curriculum, then how would you expect anyone to be instructed on the use of correct words and their spelling? How can anyone be considered educated if they cannot even master their own language?

19 02 2011

You’re lucky to see “he” being used. Usually it’s “a male individual” or “a male person”: “The male individual proceeded into the business premises…The male person allegedly struck the deceased female individual in the abdomen…The female was conveyed by road ambulance to _______ hospital where the individual was pronounced deceased upon arrival.”

24 02 2012

What about “I aks you!”……….

5 03 2010

After beginning to hear the word, ‘pressurised’ misused by BBC newscasters, I fear the end of the World is nigh. *sigh*

8 03 2010

not exactly in the catagory but similarly annoying and alarming is the gradual morphing of the word ‘perform’ into ‘preform’. youll notice this is done even by (supposedly) well educated public figures including politicians and journalists. it really gives me the shits. stop it please.

18 11 2010
Colls Bolls

Totally agree, that one particularly drives me crazy

16 02 2011
M-Pathetic - - KNOT!

I will overlook your slip-up on ‘catagory'[sic] moog-us, but only because you redeemed yourself with ‘supposedly’ … and I definately[sic] hope you aksherly[sic] pronouce it ‘suppos-ED-ly’, and not ‘supposa-BLY’ 🙂

20 02 2011

…..or supposively

17 03 2010

If the person speaking is very good looking, then maybe they are not a bogan, but simply too good looking to have ever been corrected.

13 04 2010
The Captain

The two very best I have heard are “with reckless abundance”, used by a genuine bogan, and “casting nasturtiums about…”; which saddened me, as it was used by a friend of mine who, despite holding poker nights and wearing garish paint-splashed hoodies, is otherwise quite well- read/informed. I fear this sort of lazy speech is making inroads among respectable people.

21 05 2010

Ha ha haaa! Can you be more pacific please?

11 06 2010
The Captain

And another, all too widespread, malapropism: to do something for ‘prosperity’; a non-bogan friend just used it. I tell you, we’re on the the road to hell!

28 06 2010

But you have to feel sorry for all the people who still seem to be contracting prostrate cancer.

28 06 2010
miss dahl

Nasturtiums are nice when cast into a salad ….

22 04 2010

My old boss used to say “he doesn’t mix his words” and “selective surgery”

27 04 2010

There is even creeping boganism in most of the media. The difference between ‘to spite’, ‘in spite’ and ‘despite’ is rarely practised.

Not quite a malapropism, but a new boganism of speech is not to say words that sound like ‘go’ any more; it has a beautiful bogan lean-to; ‘go-i’. ‘I know-oi’.

Even in the middle of words…..’coast’ becomes ‘coist’ etc etc. The young bogans on Neighbours and the ilk are prime examples. It’s even pervading commercial ‘news’, especially the female ‘news’ presenters. Probably sounds groovy and hip, like on 15 years ago Friends – set in America, it’s all bigger and better in America and bogans love that sort of affectation – and so it sounds so cosmopolitan and internationalist. If they knew what those words meant. Buy hey, your cocker spaniel knows he’s hungry, but he can’t tell you either.

28 06 2010

Yes, I quite agree. I’ve been noticing this for a while now and really irritates me. Sometime I lose the thread of the the story because I’m stuck on that word trying to figure out what it is that they said.

7 07 2010

Case in point – “Jo-i Hall” is the biggest culperit of this phenomenon. It usually is combined with going up at the end of every sentence, like an endless string of questions.

13 05 2010

When did infrastructure become infastructure? That one drives me crazy.

21 05 2010
Lisa M

Isn’t this an absolute hoot, everyone? I had a bogan boyfriend some years ago who once wrote down the words “chestered draws”. I laughed till I cried.

In a past life, I worked for a manufacturer of promotional products with a woman who never ceased to amaze me with her boganisms. She exhibited all the tell-tale signs, such as wearing facepaint to the footy, eating foreign food like curried sausages, being a huuuuge fan of edgy indie rock band Eskimo Joe and an even huger fan of Cameron Daddo. On one occasion, we received an email from Wollongong City Council asking for product information. The bogan woman emailed a reply which included the sentence “we will send you an brochure and an sample pack”. The boss was mortified and so was I. Turns out she’d managed to make it to 38 years of age without learning the difference between ‘a’ and ‘an’. I think she may have thought it was ‘posh’ to use the word ‘an’. Subsequently, I noticed she never said the word ‘an’ in conversation. It was always ‘a apple’ or, ‘a orange’, etc. Needless to say, we never heard back from Wollongong City Council.

2 06 2010

I worked with a bogan who always said: Now ‘supposingly’ we should do it this way. Apparently she was studying to become a lawyer… (supposingly)!

28 06 2010
miss dahl

Did you even try to correct her?

18 11 2010
Colls Bolls

My teenage daughter would use the word ‘supposebly’ until I corrected her. She tried to tell me that I must be wrong because all her friends said it was supposebly.

27 06 2010

When I did my Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate, a young female bogan who told us she worked at the front desk of an RSL Club hijacked the class.
To sound authoritative (I guess), she peppered every sentence with the word “intoxication”. But she called it “intoxi-fication”.
Someone who got drunk was “intoxificated”.

16 09 2010

Target rich environments for malapropisms:

(1) Any group of high-ranking public servants — especially ones with “Strategic”, “Capability” or “Governance” in their title.

(2) Anyone with an MBA (or a Human Resources *cough, cough* qualification).

17 09 2010

That’s right Shazza. I have worked with “high-ranking” Public servants and even they are unaware of the prefix ‘dis’.

Language is becoming just so Un-organised these days.

28 10 2010
Sydney Fi

Not a malapropism per se…but….very bogan.

I had a high school friend who said ‘arksed’ instead of ‘asked’.
She was still mispronouncing it after school, so I don’t doubt that she would still do so.

I have my school reunion on this weekend, and if she is there I will have to set up the conversation somehow to see if she has since learnt how to pronounce it correctly!
I think I will burst with laughter if I hear it pronounced incorrectly, ( I have been crying with laughter with some of the stoires above), but I will do my best to contain myself.

How appropriate, I will have a little project to conduct at a school reunion.
If applicable, I will update with feedback on Sunday : )

3 11 2010
Miss Stickler

I once dated a bogan who always said “NOO” instead of “NEW,” as well as “FUSTRATED” instead of “FRUSTRATED.” The way I always corrected his horrendous pronunciation was one of the reasons we split up!

7 11 2010

A parent of another child when I was at primary school used to continually refer to “Pastoral care” as “partial care”… I remember my mum being too polite to explain the mistake and risk causing embarrassment.

8 11 2010
Get over yourselves

Enough of the middle class (and wanna be) white guilt and all this hatred of your own kind.

I would bet that a line-up to pick out you all and some random bogans would not end well for you.

The worst are the originators of this website, the idea is not even original so surely moronic copying is a classic boganism.

While you’re all so snootily trying to paper up the cracks in your own little lives by laughing at others here, tell me when is the “Stuff Muslims like” website & book coming out?

That I’d really like to see.

8 11 2010

Get Over Yourself: I don’t hate my own kind. I hate you. Bogan.

8 11 2010
Simon - Glasser at Arms

Will you write this web site Get over yourself or are you merely happy to critise others?

You sir are a bogan.

8 11 2010

Stuff Muslims Like – excellent idea. Why don’t you start the blog and stuff it with the usual racist cliches? That would be a winner dealing as it will with hatred of the other kind.

28 03 2012
8 11 2010

“Orientated”. Oh ye gods, how I hate “orientated”. Unless it means having a potato thrown at you from the east.

14 11 2010

Actually “orientated” is correct. Americans tend to use “oriented”, and Brits and Aussies use the former. Remember the noun is “orientation”, no matter which side you bat for 🙂

8 11 2010
A Pen Name and That A

“The antithesis of “Stuff White People Like”, only lame” makes sense. Stuff White People Like is lame, and your site is the opposite except that it is lame too.

We’re good sports for being hospitable to people sooking about our site on our site. TBL

8 11 2010

Gotta luv the word “Ammacha”.

I think it has something to do with a sport person who doesn’t get paid or is really crap.

8 11 2010

I was in a meeting once where this communication person kept fanging out :”antidotal”.

It was most embarrassment.

Except I suffer sporadic dyslexia where once I read a word in my head, and I read it wrong, it stays that way and that’s the way I pronounce it.

Right up until 2008, even though rarely uttered, instead of halcyon I’d say “halycon”.

I got laughed at by other white collar workers when it happened. It was like when Roy gets sprung saying “Damp Squid” in “The It Crowd”

12 11 2010

damp squid, pedal stool, both malapropisms on the it crowd were great.

10 11 2010
Lost Tassie

I have been keeping a list since arriving in Texas. Although I have come to accept that “yall” is an acceptable word, the following are not:
-Absorpitant pricing
-Amendable (amenable)
-Irregardless (my favourite, although now an acceptable term in the south of the States)
-Refudiate (a Palinism…Mama Grizzly is becoming equal to Mama Bogan)
-Escape goat
-Mute point

And of course most people think one must ‘arks’ a question.
Hopefully no spelling mistakes in the above lest I reveal my true inner bogan.

18 11 2010
Colls Bolls

I listen to SEN 1116 on the radio (probably makes me a bogun) and the DJs use the term irregardless all the time. It gets up my goat

11 11 2010

I used to have a highschool English(!) teacher who spelled the word “real” with two Ls at the end. To be perfectly fair, that school was completely overrun with bogans, so I doubt anyone else noticed or cared.

A very common mistake among bogans is “could of”, “should of” or “would of” instead of “could HAVE”, etc. Or the mistaken belief that “brang” is a real word.

One boganism that I can’t see mentioned here – surprisingly – is “yous”. There’s no need to add an S to turn it into a plural! It’s like saying “sheeps”, or “fishes”. (Oh wait, bogans DO say “fishes” sometimes.)

16 02 2011

Fish and fishes are both used as the plural meaning of fish in different situations.

Fishes is used as the plural when referring to more than one species of fish.

28 02 2011

I once had a high school English teacher who, after she had marked a piece of my creative writing, accused me of making up words when I used the word ‘primordial’.
But the boganism that really gets to me, aside from “yeah nah” which I have mentioned on another of these posts, is “think” sometimes turned into “fink”. As in: “I didn’t say any-think/fink” or “when you go to the shop can you buy some-think/fink for me”. Bogans, their numbers are increasing, we are doomed.

6 09 2014

Or ‘brung’ and ‘yours trully’

12 11 2010
Simon Shepherd

‘Fishes’ is actually correct usage. As in the meaning of plural fish, it’s one of those words that is right both ways although it does have a specific usage – as in swim with the fishes or what you are doing when you go fishing – ‘he fishes in his wallet for his ID’.

1 01 2011

My missus actually studied literature at a tertiary level, but still pronounces “ask” as “arks”. Insists it’s too late to change it. Grr.

Better yet, I have a friend who will often preface his comment with, “I don’t want to cast dispersions, but …” It’s like the bastard lovechild of this post and #6.

8 01 2011

Shouldn’t that be “…resulting in failure”? What does “…resulting in fail” mean?

27 05 2011

sincere apologies. you appear to have wandered into teh internets by mistake. please make your way to the nearest exit, newspapers have been provided for you outside.

11 01 2011

“It was so bad it made me dry reach” …. yep, it makes me dry retch to hear it!! One of the most common malapropisms!!

12 01 2011

An historic event or an horrific accident in the news.

You only use an if the H is silent. An ‘orrific accident.

16 02 2011

I saw this today in a news article. It’s a quote from Lara Logan, a U.S journalist. I guess boganism isn’t uniquely Australian.

“It was literally like flipping a switch, the army just shifted dramatically to a much more aggressive posture,” she said.

The flipping of a switch is perhaps more metaphoric than literal in this case, Lara. Oh well, she’s a journalist. It’s not like correct use of the English language is important in her profession.

25 02 2011
gary felton

I hate the use of ‘medium’ strip when referring to median strip in the road

28 02 2011

What if it’s smaller than a large median strip but bigger than a small one?

28 02 2011
Scrotalitarian regime

Poor English. It’s worse than ‘what’ it was. It’s deteriating, moving forward.

29 04 2011

From Today Tonight:

“Would you say that your product is fairly unique?”

“Well, yeah, like me, I’m a bit unique, yeah.”


You cannot, repeat, cannot be kind of one of a kind.

2 05 2011

“An historic”!!!
If it’s not “an hospital” it isn’t “an historic”. The fact that “a historic” is easier to say just makes it even stupider. Even the newsreaders have started!

15 04 2012
moar caek

there is something to this though…
isn’t it something to do with french and english being the same language (essentially) and the french not enunciating the aspirant ‘aitch’ and so it passing into usage that the H is silent in some words? It may have been a point of linguistic fashion at some time??? I can’t remember. I did try and look it up recently and just got a bunch of lame-0™ american explanations. Like whether it is correct to say Herb or [ ]‘erb. wankers. why don’t americans just call it American and stop fucĸing around with English?

what I rilly rilly hate is hhhhaitch.
there is NO “H” in aitch!!!
Haitch is a malapropism. and people who say it are bogans.

15 04 2012
moar caek

and “for Free”
“I bought this sparkly plastic ho-dad for $29.99 and they threw in a pile of other useless crap for Free!”

it’s just “free”. there is also no such thing as $0.
and sentences begin with capitals.
and sentences need a subject, object and verb. “Idiots” is not a sentence.
“Idiots” is not a sentence is a sentence though. Isn’t it?

27 05 2011

I do love the way bogans all seem to have ‘crutches’ where their crotches should be. Does make me wonder about their prolific breeding…

9 06 2011
True Believer

To Colin Bolls,

Speaking of malapropisms………something either gets your goat or gets up your nose. I shall not elaborate further for fear of becoming boganically crass. (Boganishly?)

24 06 2011

Try question time (full of bogans-in-disguise, or bogans without disguise i.e. Bob Katter)… there many non-existent words flying about.

13 07 2011

What did my ex say he would do if he saw someone choking? He would perform the “hymen remover”. I laughed so hard that I nearly choked and he had NO IDEA WHY.

17 09 2011
Taariq Hassan

all Bogans want to become ‘effluent’!(sic)

14 04 2012

using “two times” instead of “twice”

some people should be shot.

21 04 2012
Vanilla Skin

A god-awful malapropism that even quite bright and non-bogan folk often fall prey to is using “rung” as the past tense of “ring.” One’s telephone rings. The past tense of this is RANG. A rung is a cross beam of a ladder. Far too often I hear voicemail messages cheerfully informing me that “I have rung such and such.” How this grammatical malady has spread so far beyond the western suburbs is beyond me…

15 05 2012

One that is creeping in that “gets up my goat” is “versing”. My team was versing the Raiders, and next week we are versing the Broncos. The next person who claims to have a “mute” point can in that case just shut up about it. I couldn’t help but “literally” tair my hair out when someone with whom I was speaking talked of the “Gazebo Effect”.

16 05 2012

The use of the word ‘fiscal’ to describe personal finances. Everytime I hear it my brain is silently screaming ‘fiscal refers to government finances- government finances!!!’

16 07 2012

I once heard somebody use the malapropism ‘Presentating’, as opposed to ‘presenting’. I was very amused.

7 12 2012

Sadly this has become synonymous with ‘devastate’ and is used by morons trying to sound intelligent and educated. Even more sad is the fact that even the OED has yielded under the accumulated weight of common usage and granted it the same status. To me it will always mean to kill one in ten as punishment for mutiny etc. That is, figuratively, not f@#king many!

12 02 2013

I heard someone say their child was “running rancid”….mabye rancid is the bogan equivalent of rampant?

21 03 2013

I know a couple (one of whom is a lawyer!) who say “shtreet” instead of “street”, “shtraight” instead of “straight”, etc..

Another one that annoys me is when people ask: “would you like a slither of cake”.. it’s SLIVER!

27 03 2013

I once overheard someone asking another if they preferred to eat ‘silvered’ almonds?!?

Recently an old timer passed away in our family, good innings at 93! His son has been telling all the family that it was the “triad” nurses who were the first to see his father when he was admitted to hospital… scary shtuff!

6 09 2014

They love to use the word ‘basically’. Reporters seem to constantly say it, as well as ‘massive’.

Another favourite is ‘allegedly’.

No one, especially if the bogan is related or a friend, just has a stroke or heart-attack (not that I’m making light of it) … it’s always a ‘massive stroke’ or “yeah nah, he allegedly had a massive heart-attack”.

Even an everyday illness is transformed into a life threatening situation … massive headaches, massive eye infections and a massive pimple on my chin (butt).

A particular ten newsreader also likes to be ‘pacific’ (specific).

Basically, it’s allegedly, massively true?

28 11 2015
Kali Ursula

Sorry folks, lo you and mark the funeral march for the distinction between literally and figuratively: the Oxford English Dictionary – two years ago – officially acknowledged the bogan interpretation of “literally” as correct usage, albeit secondary to the traditional meaning. I literally exploded

28 11 2015
Kali Ursula

Sorry folks, lo you and mark the funeral march for the distinction between literally and figuratively: The Oxford English Dictionary – two years ago – officially acknowledged the Bogan interpretation of “literally” as correct usage, albeit as a secondary meaning to the traditional one. I literally exploded

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: