Back in January of 1775, British playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play The Rivals premiered. It introduced a character named Mrs. Malaprop.
Her name was inspired by the French term mal à propos, meaning “inappropriate.” The name reflects the fact that Mrs. Malaprop was very linguistically challenged.
In the play, she said lots of funny things like: “Forget this fellow – illiterate him from memory” (when she meant to say “obliterate him…”).
Mrs. Malaprop’s mangled remarks became famous and spawned the word “malapropism.”
That, in turn, begat other “isms,” like the term “Spoonerisms.” It was created for the legendary slips of tongue made by British Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930). Like the time when he tried to make a cheery toast to Queen Victoria but it came out as “Three cheers for our queer old dean!”
Flash forward to George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States.
Dubya also became renowned for his malaprops. They have been dubbed “Bushisms” – and there are many of them.
Indeed, dozens of books and websites are wholly devoted to Bushisms. And, one example near the top of most lists of Bushisms was uttered on September 6, 2004 – five years ago on this date.
Pres. Bush was in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, giving a stump speech during his campaign to be reelected to his second term as president.
He was criticizing his opponent, Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, for picking a former trial lawyer, Sen. John Edwards, as a vice presidential running mate.
Bush noted that “frivolous lawsuits” by trial lawyers increased malpractice insurance costs for doctors and health care costs for patients.
Then, he added: “Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their, their love with women all across this country.”
This unintentionally salacious and hilarious head scratcher is now enshrined in the Bushism Hall of Fame. As it should be.