10 Terms For Using The Wrong Word

It’s very common to find ourselves in a situation where we have used the wrong word, whether by accident or because we genuinely weren’t aware of the appropriate term. This happens to everyone on occasion, however, what is it that you’re supposed to call the use of the wrong word?

What Is It Called When You Use The Wrong Word?

There is a particular variety of terms and phrases that can describe the moment or incident when we use the wrong word. For the purposes of this article, we will be taking an in-depth look at the following ten terms in particular:

  • Malapropism
  • Catachresis
  • Miswording
  • Typo
  • Eggcorn
  • Solecism
  • Misuse
  • Infelicity
  • Slip Of The Tongue
  • Error
Terms For Using The Wrong Word

The preferred version that we are going to highlight is “malapropism”. This is because the term “malapropism” is the best and most accurate way of describing the incident when we use the wrong word – whether in speech or written context.


“Malapropism” is both a formal and professional term that we can utilize. Cambridge Dictionary defines “malapropism” as the wrong use of one word instead of another word because they sound similar to each other, with results that are unintentionally funny.

Therefore, a “malapropism” may be an instance of incorrect use of a word, but it’s done so in an innocently amusing way.

Here are a few examples that showcase the use of this term in a sentence:

  • I had the funniest malapropism occur today when I was speaking to my dance instructor. I said I wanted to dance the flamingo, as opposed to the flamenco.
  • An excellent example of malapropism is; Jesus cured the leopards, instead of saying, Jesus cured the lepers.
  • It’s okay if you slip up and have a malapropism moment – you just need to learn from the situation for future use.


Another phenomenally formal and professional alternate term that we can choose to use is “catachresis”. The term “catachresis” is defined as the use of a word in a way that is not at all correct or proper. This makes it an incredibly applicable synonym for “using the wrong word”.

An example of “catachresis” would be to use the word mitigate in place of mediate or meditate.

For additional information on the use of this word, we can go over the following examples:

  • The earliest uses of catachresis can be dated back to the mid 16th century, proving that it is a common error.
  • Catachresis can be the complete misuse or the strained use of unsuitable words.
  • Catachresis is actually classified as being a rhetorical term for the inappropriate use of any word.


We can choose to use the term “miswording” as another alternative or synonym. The term “miswording” is defined as being the incorrect use of a word or to word or phrase something incorrectly, in a way that comes off as a lack of understanding or utterly nonsensical.

We can also consider “miswording” as the incorrect expression or pronunciation of the correct word. Despite attempting to use the correct word, this is still considered wrong, as it could confuse or mislead someone.

We will now go over these various examples that include this particular term:

  • Her miswording throughout the essay made it so I could barely comprehend what she was meaning to say.
  • Miswording to this extent is not an acceptable error in university – I suggest you consider a tutor.
  • My boyfriend was miswording and rambling all at the same time, which caused me to believe that he was delirious.


While using the wrong word often occurs through speech, it can also occur in text as well. Cambridge Dictionary defines a “typo” as a small mistake in a text made when it was typed or printed. Therefore, when a “typo” occurs, it’s often a misspelled or misused word.

A “typo” is a typographical error and because of this, it will generally be autocorrected by a phone or computer, however, this is not always the case. Occasionally, the mistake is left behind or autocorrect to the wrong term, which can cause greater confusion.

The following examples highlight the use of this particular term:

  • I had the most embarrassing typo in a text conversation with my father today – I was mortified.
  • I hate when autocorrect believes my favourite swear word is a typo and corrects it to “duck”.
  • My sister had the funniest typo in our group conversation with our parents – we all had such a laugh over it.


A very uncommon, but an applicable term that we can use as an alternative is “eggcorn”. Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “eggcorn” is a word or phrase that a person wrongly thinks is another word or phrase that sounds similar. An example of this is using acorn in place of “eggcorn”.

Often, an “eggcorn” occurs because we have misheard or misinterpreted a term previously, which was never corrected. This can occur in both speech and text.

Here are some examples that we can go over for this term:

  • An example of an eggcorn is writing tow the line, instead of toe the line.
  • My teacher called me out in front of the rest of the class because she said I consistently use eggcorns, but what do nuts have to do with this?
  • I didn’t know what an eggcorn was until my professor explained it to me.


We can choose to use the term “solecism” very similarly to our other alternate terms that we have gone over. Cambridge Dictionary defines a “solecism” as a grammatical mistake, as well as behaviour that is a social mistake or is not polite.

A “solecism” can occur in person, speech or in writing.

For additional clarity on the use of this term, we can go over these examples:

  • I made far too many grammatical solecisms throughout my essay, so my teacher returned my paper to me to redo it.
  • Burping in public without immediately saying excuse me is an example of social solecism.
  • It’s important to have a vast understanding of a language, as well as a good comprehension of spelling, in order to cut down on the number of solecisms you make.


Although the term “misuse” can apply to many situations, it’s certainly applicable for the use of the wrong word or phrase. Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “misuse” as to use something in an unsuitable way or in a way that was not intended.

Because of this, we can consider speaking, writing or typing the incorrect word to be “misuse”.

We can now take a closer look at some examples that use this particular term:

  • My teacher is unimpressed with my consistent misuse of the term potency, as opposed to the proper term, which is apparently potential.
  • She has a blatant misuse of swear words, in place of the adequate or correct term.
  • If you misuse the incorrect term more than five times on our online test, you are automatically given a failing grade.


We can consider “infelicity” to be the inappropriate use of a work, remark or suggestion. This is because Cambridge Dictionary defines “infelicity” as the fact that something is not suitable or correct in a situation. Because of this “infelicities” can often come across as entirely rude or unpleasant.

It’s important to note that an “infelicity” can happen during a conversation either in person, over the phone, through text or even email.

Some examples that we can take a look at, that include this term are:

  • There is both an abundance of infelicities and inconsistencies in this book, which leads me to believe that it was plagiarized.
  • Rewatching herself on video, she winced as she heard her repeated infelicity and the way she had botched the script.
  • A had an infelicity during my presentation in front of my class, which was incredibly embarrassing.

Slip Of The Tongue

Another great alternative that we can use, as well as our only phrase synonym, is a “slip of the tongue”. Cambridge Dictionary defines a “slip of the tongue” as something that you say by accident when you intended to say something else.

Because of this, we can consider a “slip of the tongue” the blurting out of a private secret, this misuse of a phrase and the use of the incorrect word.

Here are various examples that include the use of this specific phrase:

  • I had a slip of the tongue in front of my best friend’s parents and accidentally told them that she tried marijuana at a party.
  • I called my mother’s new boyfriend by her previous boyfriend’s name and neither was impressed with that slip of the tongue.
  • I apologize wholeheartedly for that honest slip of the tongue moment.


The last alternative that we will be going over is “error”. Although the term “error” is another generic term, it is applicable to a situation where we say the wrong word. Often, we consider this to be an “error” in speech, but it can be applied for writing or text as well.

Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “error” as something done or written by accident that is not correct, not accurate, or does not give the right result. We can also consider an “error” to be a generalized mistake.

We will now look over our last few examples for this article, all of which include this term:

  • He made an error in his speech but immediately corrected himself in a way that the audience appreciated.
  • I’ve made a very crucial error in communication and sent the delivery driver to my old address – I am so sorry!
  • She made an error in judgement and assumably called me by my younger sister’s name.

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