We don’t step on each others’ feathers

This wonderful malaphor comes from Matt Deppe, first time contributor to the site.  Last week a friend was trying to explain to him why he and his house mate get along so well.  “I guess it works so well because we don’t step on each others’ feathers”.  This is a mash up of “step on someone’s toes” (to insult or offend someone) and “ruffle someone’s feathers” (to annoy or irritate someone).

At the rate they’re calling flags….

At last week’s USC-Cal football game, ESPN announcer David Pollack said, “at the rate they’re calling flags, you better make sure you’re on it.”  This is a congruent conflation of of “throwing flags” (calling a penalty) with “calling penalties”.  A big thanks to Laszlo Veres (Malaphor Senior Vice President, Eastern Region) for hearing this one and passing it on!    


while your business gets off its feet

Malaphor hunter Yvonne Stam heard this one in her car while listening to Suze Orman’s book “the Money Class”.  In the chapter on starting your own business, Orman  says you need to have savings to tide you over “while your business gets off its feet”.   This is a subtle mash up of “off the ground” (to get something started) and “on its feet” (to get someone back to normal).   The phrase “getting off on the right foot” also comes to mind, which is probably what the speaker meant to say.  Thank you Yvonne for sharing this one, but a warning to everyone:  PLEASE do not malaphor hunt and drive at the same time.

I read it front to cover

This terrific mixed idiom was heard on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.  Musician Jimmy Vivino was discussing his development in learning to arrange music and mentioned a book on orchestration that a teacher had given him that he read in its entirety.  This is a combination of “front to back” and “cover to cover”, both meaning to have read something in its entirety.  There is also a British expression, knowing “(something) back to front”, which also means to know something completely or in its entirety.  How many of you have literally read a book front to cover, and decided that was enough?  Liner covers do serve a useful purpose.  A big thank you to Mike Kovacs, who listens and reads front to cover for malaphors.

He is shooting for the fences

I heard this gem on this morning’s Meet the Press.  Helene Cooper, a New York Times correspondent, was discussing President Obama’s proactive week, including his executive authority to issue an executive order regarding immigration.  I believe she was wanting to say  “swinging for the fences”, meaning to try and accomplish bold ideas, but mixed it with “shooting for (something)” meaning to aim for.


I was pounding the bushes

This is a wonderful congruent conflation of “beating the bushes” and “pounding the pavement”, both meaning to try very hard to achieve something.  As the speaker said, “you’d think the alliteration would help me keep them straight”.  I was actually pounding my bushes this weekend trying to dislodge all the leaves that had dropped on them.  A big thanks to Peter from the blog “Our Mechanical Brain” for producing this great malaphor and passing it on!  Check his blog out at Our Mechanical Brain

We were under the opinion that….

This very subtle congruent conflation was heard in the episode “Deadly Disappearance” on the  Series “Blood, Lies, and Alibis”.  It is a mash up of “under the impression” and “of the opinion”.  A big thanks to Laszlo Veres for spotting this one.  He has ears like a hawk.

Blood, Lies & Alibis tv show photo


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