I have recently encountered many instances of people on the radio and on TV using the word ‘misnomer’ (which has a dictionary definition of “a name that is wrong or not proper or appropriate”) when they seem to mean ‘misconception’ or ‘misunderstanding’. This interview on NPR with an Indiana congressman provides an example of this increasingly common usage. He uses the word at the 2:33 mark in response to a question that begins at around 2:00.
I am not sure why this erroneous usage seems to be gaining ground since the word misnomer itself is not commonly used, while misconception and misunderstanding are.
Do people think that using a somewhat more esoteric word makes them seem more learned and authoritative?