It blows the roof off my doors

This seems to be a mash up of “blows the doors off” (very fast) and “hit the roof” (very angry).  My ol’ pal says maybe “blows his lid”, which also means very angry.  The context, however, was something exceeding expectations.  which would indicate “go through the roof” (prices go exceedingly high) might be in play.  A big thank you to Paul Brendel by way of Kevin Hatfield for reporting this one.

I’m biting my words

Precisely.  That’s what we all do when we utter malaphors.  This one is a mash up of “eating my words”  (admission that what you said was wrong) and “biting my tongue” (stop yourself from speaking).  The speaker, Kevin Hatfield, was attempting to say eating my words but perhaps felt he bit off more than he could chew.  Biting and eating are part of the confusion, both actions by the mouth.  “My” is also shared, adding to the mix up.   Thanks to Kevin Hatfield for blurting this one out!


I was taken to the wolves

I don’t make these up, folks.  This wonderful malaphor is a mash up of “thrown to the wolves” (put someone in a situation where there is nothing to protect them) and “taken to the cleaners” (swindle someone).  The words “taken” and “thrown”, both verbs and both starting with a “t”, may have been the root of the confusion.   This mix up was said by Jon Hein, creator of the Jump the Shark website (now part of and host of The Wrap Up Show on the Howard Stern channel on Sirius XM satellite radio.  He was referring to a time that he was put in a compromising position.   Interestingly, Jon Hein grew up in Pittsburgh (Mt. Lebanon).  A fellow Pittsburgher and senior malaphor reporter, Mike Kovacs, heard this one and messaged it in.   Thanks again, Mike!

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You’ll end up chasing red herrings

This is a mash up of “chasing your tail” (busy but not achieving anything) and ” a red herring” (something that misleads or detracts from what is important).  This was advice from a Judge to an attorney to have short deadlines to complete writing assignments, otherwise peripheral issues might be focused on that don’t really matter.   The combination of the phrases creates a nice new one, meaning wasting time on non essential issues.  So don’t sweat the small stuff, people.   Interestingly, the origin of the phrase “red herring” supposedly comes from the training of hounds to follow scents.  Red herrings would have a strong scent, and would be tied to the tails of hounds to make them concentrate on the actual scent that they were supposed to follow.   A big thank you to John Costello for sending this one in.

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I’m fuming at the mouth

This is a congruent conflation of “fuming over (someone or something)” and “foaming at the mouth”, both meaning to be extraordinarily angry.  The context makes sense:  the speaker was trying to make a left turn against oncoming traffic and said, “”I’ll call you back in a minute. I’m fuming at the mouth trying to make this left turn”.   “Running on fumes” also may be in the mix, as car fumes might certainly have been on her mind as well.  A big thanks to Joseph Newcomer for sending this one in!

You’re too smart for your own britches

This wonderful congruent conflation is a mash up of  “you’re too smart for your own good” and “too big for your britches”, both describing a haughty person.  This is a fairly common malaphor, evidenced by the amount of internet hits using this phrase.  Contributing to the confusion is the use of the word “too”.   Thanks to Sheva Gunnery for hearing this subtle mix up and passing it on!

Why don’t we call and chew his brain?

No, this is not a line from The Walking Dead (although maybe it is…).  It is a nicely formed malaphor, shared by that malaphor hunter, John Costello.  John was speaking to his wife about calling a handyman and this was her response. It is a mash up of “chew the fat” (to chat) and ” pick his brain” (talking with someone to get information about something).  I particularly like this one as it conjures up an image that was not intended.  This malaphor was also spoken by the pitcher Matt Harvey last year:

Harvey said he did not get a chance to chat with Justin Verlander when the ace made the visit to Port St. Lucie. But Terry Collins , who is close with Tigers manager Jim Leyland, indicated he’d like to make a conversation happen.

“Hopefully I’ll chew his brain a little bit down the road,” Harvey said. “I just sat back and watched.”


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