I got by by the squeak of my teeth

This is a congruent conflation of “by the skin of my teeth” and “squeaked by”, both meaning just barely.   My teeth seem to squeak when I rub my fingers over them, particularly after a good dental cleaning, so I can see where the speaker might be confused.  The phrase “squeaky clean” used to describe clean teeth (and other things) also comes to mind.  All in all, I think this malaphor is an improvement over the idioms noted above, don’t you?  A big squeaky clean thank you to Beverly Rollins Sheingorn VanDerhei (now there’s a mouthful!) for sending this one in!

He is behind the gun

This subtle malaphor is a mash up of “behind the 8 ball” (in trouble) and “under the gun” (under pressure).  Both idioms are very similar in meaning.  The context was facing a deadline, so the speaker probably meant under the gun.  The words behind and under are similar in indicating location, which I think adds to the mix up.  Many thanks to Senior Malaphor Hunter Mike Kovacs (note the title in caps).

At least you went down guns loaded, or guns blown, whatever.

Since it is NFL football Sunday, I thought I would share this nice little malaphor uttered by the Buffalo Bills quarterback, EJ Manuel.  After being benched in favor of Kyle Orton, he made it clear that he wants another chance.

“You don’t worry about the repercussions. If something happens, at least you went down guns loaded, or guns blown, whatever. You just go out there and let it rip. That’s what I’ve been practicing out there this week, against our defense, so just allowing myself to go out and make plays naturally.”


This is a mash up of  “went down fighting” and “go down with guns blazing”,  both meaning putting up a fight.  The malaphor results in exactly the opposite meaning – went down with guns loaded, i.e., did not put up a fight.   The “whatever” perhaps was an exasperated searching in his mind for the correct idiom.  That happens to me a lot.  Whatever.    A big thanks to John Costello for hearing this one and passing it along.  The sports world comes through again!

We are not on the edge of the curve with technology

The speaker described himself and his wife as not very tech savvy and then said this nice malaphor.  It is is a congruent conflation of  “cutting edge” and “ahead of the curve”, both meaning to be in front of others.  Being on the edge of the curve seems pretty precarious to me.  Thanks to Steve Hubbard for sending this one in!

That would just be gravy on the icing

The yuck factor is high on this one, but it’s a great malaphor.  It was said by someone who was discussing the possibility of getting more money than she anticipated.  This is a congruent conflation of “icing on the cake” and “the rest is just gravy”, both meaning an extra enhancement.  Perhaps this one describes a little too much enhancement.    Coincidentally, I received this malaphor from two people last week who don’t know each other so kudos to Deb Rose and Jonathan Ogle for sending this one in!


Everything’s up to snuff in Kansas City

Okay, you’re all saying – this is not a malaphor!  I contend it is, and since I am the Malaphor King, I choose to post it.  The mix comes from the title of a song in the broadway musical “Oklahoma!” – “Everything’s up to date in Kansas City” – and the phrase “up to snuff” (as good as required).   This was uttered by a guy in the theater business (makes sense).  Thanks to Sam Edelmann for passing this one along!

You are shooting yourself in the foot to spite your face

Yes, that is what Sarah blurted out to her husband, and then she realized she had unintentionally uttered a malaphor.  As she said, “this is what sleep deprivation and being newly post partum will do to someone.”  The malaphor is a mix of “shooting yourself in the foot” (to cause yourself difficulty) and “cut off your nose to spite your face” (to hurt yourself in an attempt to hurt another).   Both phrases have to do with doing damage to oneself, literally (cutting and shooting) and figuratively.  Sarah’s malaphor contains serious damage!   Thanks to Sarah for sending this one in!


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