Figure Name acyrologia
Source Quintilian 8.2.3 ("improprietas"); Isidore 2.20.1; Susenbrotus (1540) 11-12 ("acyrologia," "acyron"); Sherry (1550) 32 ("acyrologia," "improprietas"); Peacham (1577) D1r; Silva Rhetoricae (
Earliest Source None
Synonyms acirilogia
Etymology Gk. a, "not", kyros, "authority," and logos, "speech"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. An incorrect use of words, especially the use of words that sound alike but are far in meaning from the speaker's intentions. (Silva Rhetoricae)


1. "I'm going to get tutored!" (One dog brags to another in a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon)
The comedy of this cartoon results from acyrologia: the dog has mistaken "neutered" for the less painful "tutored," a mistake that changes the meaning entirely of what was intended.

"Oh, so your Health/PE class is bisexual."
"Co-ed" was meant for "bisexual." The misuse of this word changes the meaning significantly. (Silva Rhetoricae)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures acyron, improprietas, cacozelia, paronomasia, figures of substitution
Notes Ethos - acyrologia erodes the ethos of the speaker, for it portrays his/her ignorance. However, if it is seen as a tool used by an implied author to cleverly characterize a fictional person, it can contribute to the speaker's/author's reputation for wit, or can endear the audience through comedy. Note: Malapropisms are a kind of acyrologia. Style - acyrologia reflects poor diction (word choice), thus demonstrating a low level of style. Substitution - acyrologia is one of many other figures of speech or rhetorical strategies based upon substitution.
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ashley Rose Kelly
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes fixed source
Reviewed Yes
Reviewer Ashley Rose Kelly