The Far Side cartoon to the left is one of my favorite of all time. It’s an example of a mondegreen, which is a fancy word for a misunderstanding where what you hear makes more sense (to you, anyhow) than what was actually said.
Along those same lines are malapropisms, which are the unintentional misuse of a word. The character of Joey Tribbiani in Friends used many malapropisms. A shining example from the third season: "No, a moo point. Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo."
As an English teacher, I’ve seen a lot of malapropisms in my day: students writing didactic essays decrying youth in Asia, heartfelt narratives about how you can’t take family for granite, historical research into the lives of feudal pee-ons. They’re good for a giggle, but they can also be annoying. I have a friend who believes that somewhere a puppy dies whenever someone says, “for all intensive purposes” instead of “for all intents and purposes.”
I’m currently outlining Oktoberfest, the sixth installment in my Murder-by-Month series, and I’ve decided to include a modern Mrs. Malaprops in the novel. Care to help me with my research by sharing your favorite malapropisms?