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Slip of the tongue

  • Slip of the tongue is an idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom slip of the tongue, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    A slip of the tongue is a misspoken word or phrase that is often humorous. A slip of the tongue is unintentional. A slip of the tongue may be a spoonerism, which is a verbal mistake in which the initial consonant sounds of two words are transposed. A slip of the tongue may be a malapropism, which is a verbal mistake in which a word is substituted with another word that sounds similar but means something entirely different. Another category of a slip of the tongue is a mondegreen, which is a misheard version of a phrase, saying, lyric, poetic phrase, or slogan. Finally, a slip of the tongue may be an eggcorn, which is a misheard word or phrase that retains its original meaning. Slips of the tongue occur for many reasons. One may have learned the pronunciation of a word or phrase incorrectly; misread a word or phrase; or simply become tongue-tied because of fatigue, anxiety, or illness. The expression slip of the tongue exploded into popular use in the mid-1700s; however, its antecedent, slip of the pen, may be found in documents going back to the 1600s. The plural form of slip of the tongue is slips of the tongue.

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    Examples

    Newman described those comments as a “slip of the tongue that the matter had already been accepted and approved.” (The Charleston Post and Courier)

    It might be mentioned that Babul had said to the court that comment made by him during the show was a slip of the tongue and it was not intended to attack Moitra personally. (The Times of India)

    But Biden’s second-fiddle slip of the tongue stands out because it came on the heels of running mate Kamala Harris’ own linguistic shuffling of the deck. (The Boston Herald)


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