Here are 24 of the most amusing malaprops made by bumbling famous figures over the years.
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Pop star Justin Bieber was 13 when he was discovered and sky-rocketed to fame, so it’s understandable that he didn’t have a traditional educational experience. Perhaps that’s why he got confused while trying to brag in 2014 and said he was “detrimental to [his] own career” when he meant “instrumental.” That wasn’t the first of Bieber’s mix-ups. On David Letterman’s late night show in 2012, he said he wouldn’t go crazy getting tattoos because “I’m not going for the Sixteenth Chapel look.” He was trying to refer to the Sistine Chapel.
Sarah Palin coined many catch-phrases while campaigning for vice president in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she famously made up a word. The former Alaskan governor accidentally bungled "repudiate" and mashed it up with “refute” to form the nonexistent word “refudiate.” She used the word in a tweet calling for her followers to “refudiate” the building of a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center. Mockery ensued, and Palin claimed her mistake was akin to Shakespeare making up new words.
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Unfortunately, Mike Tyson doesn’t have the same way with words as fellow boxer Muhammed Ali, who coined the poetic phrase, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” After losing to Lennox Lewis in June of 2002, Tyson told ESPN, "I guess I'm gonna fade into Bolivian” instead of “oblivion.”
President Donald Trump’s penchant for tweeting his thoughts without a filter has led to some mind-boggling typos and grammar errors, but perhaps his most ironic slip-up was mistakenly using the non-word “unpresidented” in lieu of “unprecedented.” He tweeted, “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.”
Tara Reid once tried to distinguish herself from fellow “dumb blonde” Jessica Simpson by saying, "I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist." It’s unclear whether she meant geologist or was just a few letters shy of “rocket scientist.” Either way, it didn’t make her look smarter.
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Rick Perry was the longest-serving governor of Texas. In his 15 years in the role, he was bound to misspeak sometime, but one of his mistakes was quite the doozy. In 2014, he was speaking at an event in New Hampshire when he described America’s states as "lavatories of innovation and democracy.” There’s definitely a big difference between toilets and laboratories.
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NBA player turned coach Jason Kidd has had a decorated career, but maybe he should’ve paid more attention in college at Cal. After being selected as the No. 1 draft pick in the 1994 draft by the Dallas Mavericks, Kidd vowed, "Now that I'm here, we'll turn this program around 360 degrees.” Though he didn’t quite nail the geometry, he did help turn the team 180 degrees to improve their record from 13-69 to 36-46.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s surprising transition from action star to California governor wasn’t totally smooth. While running for governor in 2003, the Austrian native got a little mixed up when answering a question, saying, “I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”
Supermodel Linda Evangelista made headlines in 2006 for misunderstanding the concept of dieting. "I don't diet,” she said. “I just don't eat as much as I'd like to.”
While the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bill Cowher, likely gave his players a scare when he mixed up “circumvent,” meaning “go around,” with a medical procedure. He said, “We're not attempting to circumcise rules.”
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First daughter Ivanka Trump was educated at Penn and Georgetown, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t prone to public slip-ups. She misused the word “otherwise” in lieu of “overall” on Twitter, accidentally implying her nephew Eric “Luke” Trump ruined her day. She wrote: “Cuddling my little nephew Luke... the best part of an otherwise incredible day!” Chrissy Teigen and many other Twitter users were quick to correct her.
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Former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley famously made up “scrootened,” a past tense of “scrutinize.” He said: "Scrutiny? What else do you want? Do you want to take my shorts? Give me a break. ... Go scrutinize yourself! I get scrootened every day, don't worry, from each and every one of you. It doesn't bother me." Daley obviously learned the art of the bungling words from his father, Richard J. Daley, who also served as mayor. The older Daley’s famous malapropisms include calling a tandem bicycle a “tantrum bicycle” and referring to Alcoholics Anonymous as “Alcoholics Unanimous.”
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Deion Sanders must’ve watched too many court procedurals in order to produce this mess of a quote. The former Dallas Cowboys cornerback wanted to put on his most professional face when his wife sued him for divorce on the grounds of adultery in 1996. Unfortunately, he wasn’t aware “before” and “prior to” are synonyms, or that “adultery” only applies to people who are married. He said: “When you say I committed adultery, are you stating before the marriage of 1996 or prior to?”
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Keanu Reeves is bilingual, plays bass guitar and has trained in multiple martial arts. But alas, he sometimes sounds more like his airhead character from “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” when it comes to his word choice in interviews. Reeves told Details magazine in 1991: “I cried over beauty, I cried over pain, and the other time I cried because I felt nothing. I can’t help it. I’m just a cliché of myself.”
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U.S. politicians aren’t the only ones who makes headlines for verbal errors. Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott once substituted “suppository” for “repository,” a building where things are housed. "No one," he said, "however smart, however well-educated, however experienced … is the suppository of all wisdom."
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Rappers make up or misuse words all the time, while rockers like Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton have struggled with using “lay” vs. “lie.” But one of the most scientifically incorrect song lyrics comes from country crossover artist Faith Hill. In her hit song “This Kiss,” she sings that a magical smooch is like “centrifugal” motion. The problem is that centrifugal motion forces things away from each other. Centripetal force is what draws things together.
Former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle was known for his bumbling statements. Some floating around the web that are attributed to him were never actually uttered by Quayle, but a few gems are the real deal: “We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.” “I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy – but that could change.” “Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.” And then there’s perhaps his most salient quote: “I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.”
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Two-time NBA MVP Karl Malone earned the nickname “The Mailman” for his consistent delivery, but that was with buckets, not turns of phrase. Malone once confused “scape” for “escape” when he exclaimed, “I ain't gonna be no escape-goat!"
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Actor, singer and pop culture icon David Hasselhoff certainly has good genes, but his family didn’t teach him the difference between “bred” and “inbred.” In 1993, he famously misspoke, saying, "I've got taste. It's inbred in me."
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While many words morph over time and lose their original meaning, the term “christen” still distinctly means to baptize people and name them in the Christian church. Unfortunately, soccer player David Beckham somehow missed the connection between “christen” and “Christian” when discussing his then-infant son Brooklyn. "I definitely want Brooklyn to be christened,” he said, “but I don't know into what religion yet."
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Maybe Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose just has a different definition of an exclusive relationship: “It’s really hard to maintain a one-on-one relationship if the other person is not going to allow me to be with other people,” he told Rolling Stone in 1989.
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While she was only 16 at the time of her most famous flub, supermodel and actress Brooke Shields probably should’ve known better: “Smoking can kill you,” she said in 1981, expressing her concern about the dangers of cigarettes. "And if you've been killed you've lost a very important part of your life."
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While president, George W. Bush became famous for many “Bushisms,” including making up the word “misunderestimate” and mispronouncing “nuclear.” Here is one quote in which his use of the wrong word makes the meaning hilariously incorrect: "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it.”
The king of malapropisms is famed MLB player, manager and coach Yogi Berra. He coined many turns of phrase that were blatantly contradictory. Some of his pithiest include: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” and "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future." He would also often substitute a comically incorrect word, like confusing “ambidextrous” and “amphibious”: “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”