Nicholas, I’ve warned you

about not paying attention

in my class.

This is your final warning.

Next time, it’s down to the office.

Now, can anyone answer

 the question correctly?


I can, I can Ms Hardwick, says Winnifred,

the teacher’s pet (and a pain in the class).

What is the correct phrase phrase, Winnifred?

Nip in the bud, not butt, Ms Hardwick, she answers,

then adds,

Sorta like when you prune a flower

In a budding stage, to keep it from growing.

Then she rolls her eyes. In your direction.


Precisely. It is a metaphor

for dealing with a problem

when it is still small

and before it grows

into something LARGER, Ms Hardwick says,

looking dead at you.


Ironically, Nicholas, by not paying attention,

you have stumbled upon another literary device

called a malapropism*. Do you know what that means?

And of course you do, but before

 you can tell her Winnifred raises

her hand and starts spelling it:

M-A-L-A-P-R-O-P-I-S-M, from

the French term mal a propos, meaning

when a person, or in this case, a boy,

uses a word that sounds like another

 just to be funny.


Excellent, Winnifred, and since

You’re such a comedian, Nicholas, Ms Hardwick howls,

How about you finish reading

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

and find

an example of malopropism

to present

in class next week.