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metaplasm (MET-uh-plaz-uhm) noun

A change in a word, for example by adding, omitting, inverting, or transposing its letters, syllables, or sounds.

[From Middle English metaplasmus, from Latin, from Greek metaplasmos (remodeling), from metaplassein (to remold) from meta- + plassein (to mold).]

Metaplasm is a generic term for almost any kind of alteration in a word. It can be intentional, to produce a poetic effect, to fit a meter or rhyme. Or it can be unintentional -- one we hear quite often nowadays is nucular for nuclear. Some other examples are oft for often, rithmetic for arithmetic, libary for library, sherbert for sherbet. -Anu

"It is a kind of metaplasm, in this case the addition of a medial syllable, as in people who say 'realator' instead of 'realtor.'" Zay N. Smith, Filmmakers Cutting Away at Their Rights?, The Chicago Sun-Times, Sep 29, 2002.

"So I said, `I'm going to write a letter. The world is getting too sensitive. Anybody who thinks otherwise needs to have his dog-gone brain examined.' `Good idea,' said my sensitive friend, `but avoid using that metaplasm...'" Richard A. Zidonis, Proper Address of the Question, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), Nov 8, 1991.

This week's theme: words about words.


Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience? -Thomas J. Watson, industrialist (1874-1956)

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