Malaprops Are Us by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

I’m fond of those who mean one thing and accidentally say another. These are my people. The official word for such a thing is didisaythatmalapropism and I tend to produce them in multiples when I get excited. As a public speaker who loves to travel and is always enthusiastic about meeting new people, this has led to some interesting exchanges. On at least two occasions, I’ve introduced myself to someone by the name printed on their name tag. Oh, yeah, that’s a real icebreaker.

It can also be embarrassing for a writer who is trying to make a living with her words, which is why I think it might be encouraging for people like me to create our own club. We could call it Malaprops are Us and I could see if Mama D wants to join us. She’s a lot of fun! My friend’s real name is Dorothy but just about everyone calls her Mama D.

Over the years Mama D’s family has collected a number of what they call Dorothyisms. For example, Mama D’s husband does have problems with his sciatic nerve but his psychotic nerve is just fine.

Mama D keeps everyone guessing with her habit of combining familiar sayings into one puzzling expression, but to a person they’ll tell you that her can-do spirit is the backbone of her family, church, and community. Mama D might find herself “broke as a day of spades” but to her it will just be a “kink in the ointment.”

Not long ago, Mama D took a scary fall from a cotton module. At the hospital, the family gathered around their beloved matriarch who was now heavily bandaged around her head and right ankle. Her loved ones listened as the doctor expressed his concern that she might also have a concussion. As he went down the list of things they should be watching for, the family locked in on one tell-tale sign: Should Mama D begin to get her words confused, they were to notify him immediately.

Perhaps their concern about that could best be expressed by another famous member of Malaprops are Us. In the words of Yogi Berra, “It gets late early around here.”

I hope y’all have a great big weekend, folks. Oh, and if you’re malaprop-prone or know someone who is, I’d love to hear your stories!

Hugs, Shellie

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  1. Lisa Wingate says

    Oh, girl, can I join the club? I think this is the place for me and it sounds like I will be in good company. Mama D sounds like a lot of fun and I know your stories draw a crowd wherever you go. I’ve seen it happen. A creative mind is a beautiful thing 😉

    Have a great weekend, Shellie.



  2. Rachel Hauck says

    So funny! And so true… I’ve done a few myself.

    I was talking with one of my girls a year or so ago, agreeing with her on a point and instead of saying “Exactly!” I said, “Exact!”

    We still laugh about that one. “What was that?”


  3. Shellie says

    I don’t know but see — this is how my brain works– the next time I start to tell someone, “Exactly!” I will want to say, “Exact” in honor of your story. :))

  4. Melanie Backus says

    Oh my, you better put my name down for membership in this club. What can I say… happens! I know Mama D and I would be great friends. Have a good one !

  5. says

    I was at a national author/bookseller meet ‘n’ greet and asked the lady with an ‘AL’ badge if she was from Alaska. She said, with a wry smile, “Why, no. Alabama.” I can obviously join your club, Shellie Belle! Great post! :)

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