Friday, November 05, 2010


For many years I've been subject to a particular variety of slip of the tongue which as far as I know is an as-yet unobserved and unnamed phenomenon.

The situation is this: There are two words that have essentially the same meaning, and so your mind is unable to choose between them. Instead of one or the other, out comes a mishmash that combines half of each, which just happens to be another, quite unrelated word. Awkwardly, you grasp for the correct term--and instead produce a second mishmash with the remaining elements, which turns out to be yet another unrelated word.

The first time it happened was when I was much younger, driving about with my siblings, and observed a heavy-set woman working in front of her house. "There's someone working in her lard," I said, and then on further reflection corrected, "No, no, I mean her yawn!"

When I first studied corporate law, I spent a lot of time pondering what exactly happened when a corporation issued shocks--er, that is, stares.

And recently I was telling DOB about how the children went out in the puddles and got their shoots--that is, their booze--soaping, that is, socking, wet.

So I propose a term for this phenomenon: a synacism. Have you ever met one?


Jeremy said...

I don't know what it's called, but I'm practically famous for this kind of word jumble. Especial when I'm tired.


Anonymous said...

I've never synacism I didn't like.

No experience with them, but I like the concept.


Wendy said...

Love it! Wish I could do it...

CappuccinoLife said...

Oh that made me laugh out loud. I do that too sometimes, much to the amusement of my family.

Love your word for it, too.