This was seen on a Facebook post. It’s a nice mash up of “busy as a beaver” (very busy) and “happy camper” (happy person). The words beaver and camper have the same number of letters and similar sounds that probably added to the confusion. Of course, maybe the person really meant to describe a very busy happy person! Thanks to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for sending this one in.
This mixed idiom is similar to “long road to hoe”, posted April 25, 2013. The phrases in this malaphor include “long road”, “tough row to hoe”, and “a mountain to climb”, all meaning tough or difficult situations. John Costello heard this on the HBO series True Detective, episode 5. Marty is trying to get back with Maggie. Maggie says “you have a long road to climb.” Of course, if you lived in or visited Pittsburgh or San Francisco, you might hear this one used literally. Thanks to John Costello for this one.
This alliterative congruent conflation is a mash up of “happy as a clam” and “happy as a pig in clover” or “in clover”, all meaning to be in a pleasant situation. I’m not sure you can be happier than this description. Ordinarily the clam would be happiest at high tide, a normal extension of that phrase. But perhaps the clam reveling in clover is the height of pleasure. A big thanks to Lou Pugliese for hearing his Dad utter this beauty and passing the malaphor on to me.
This phrase stands on its own, describing what one might do if one feels faint, but in context, it is a nice malaphor. The speaker is Tom Seaver, discussing the 69 Mets team and how they came back from adversity and never quit. Pretty sure he was mixing “not putting your tail between your legs” and “not hanging your head”, both expressions meaning not feeling ashamed or embarrassed. “keep your head up” (feeling calm in the face of adversity) also seems in play here. Thanks to Steve Hubbard who heard this on the MLB Network regarding Cinderella teams.
Sometimes my malaphor scouts come across a juicy one in one of the books they are reading. That’s what happened when Steve Hubbard discovered this gem in the “Hour Game” by David Baldacci. Sean King, a major character in the book, utters this mash up:
“If I told you we had information they’d had a knock-down-drag-out three or four years ago over Bobby’s sleeping around, would that surprise you?” “No. He had that reputation. Some people thought he was over it, but old dogs rarely change their spots.”
This is a mash up of “a leopard doesn’t change its spots” (a person’s character, especially if it is bad, will not change, even if they pretend it has) and ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” (it is difficult to make someone change the way they do something when they have been doing it the same way for a long time). Both expressions describe people set in their ways, making this a congruent conflation. And of course Mr. King was referring to that old two timin’ dog Bobby. Thanks again to Steve Hubbard for passing this one along!
Sounds like a song title, but it actually is a malaphor. The speaker meant to say eggshells instead of ice, and wound up mixing the phrases “walking on eggshells” (try very hard not to upset someone) and “walking (or skating) on thin ice”” (risky situation). The mix up is probably due to ice and eggshells both being easily breakable. Also, if you don’t walk on eggshells with a person who is upset you might be skating on thin ice! A big thank you to Paula Fow for sending this one in.
Ah yes, the mixed up world we live in, particularly we baby boomers. This phrase was written in a letter to the editor of The Daily Progress, a Charlottesville Virginia newspaper (wahoo wah). The writer was discussing how a natural gas pipeline was going to go through her property and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves these 99% of the time. The malaphor is a mash up of “the fox guarding the henhouse” (a job assigned to a person who is exploiting it to his own ends) and “the chickens come home to roost” (facing the consequences of one’s own misdeeds). Thanks to Jack Knoll for sending this one in!