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Examples of Misnomers

Today’s topic is examples of misnomers.

On Wednesday Michele Bachmann challenged widespread fears that failure to raise the debt limit could lead to economic catastrophe. “This is a misnomer that the president and the Treasury secretary have been trying to pass off on the American people,” she said.

No, Michele. It’s a misconception. When David Letterman jokingly talks about “Michele Obachmann,” that’s a misnomer.

Misnomers are incorrect or inappropriate names. Want some examples of misnomers? Columbus called Native Americans “Indians” because he thought he had landed in India. His name for the people he found here is a misnomer. Theodore Roosevelt’s “Charge up San Juan Hill” is another misnomer: The actual name was Kettle Hill.

My husband, a horticulturist with a passion for palms, is constantly correcting people who talk about their “traveler’s palms”and “ponytail palms.” Both those common names are misnomers: traveler’s plants (the correct name) are related to bananas, and ponytail plants (again, the correct name) are members of the lily¬†family.

If you think you can grow tulips in Central Florida (where we live), that’s a misconception.

We once owned a short-haired cat with a bad temper that somehow acquired the name “Fluff.” That was a misnomer (and for a long time we had the scratches to prove it).

Tulips Wiki Commons

 

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