Does he think I just fell from the turnip tree?

The turnip truck idiom seems to be a tough one to remember and say correctly, as it was the subject of another malaphor posted last December, “I wasn’t born off the turnip truck” (December 7, 2013).   This new one appears to be a mash up of “fallen off the turnip truck” (someone unsophisticated or naiive) and “the apple does not fall far from the tree”  (inherited personality traits).  Perhaps “to fall off the wagon”  (back to drinking after a period of abstinence)  might be in the mix as well.  A tip of the hat to John Costello who admits he blurted this one out.


These folks are trying to advance this niche of the pie

A subtle but proper malaphor, this is a mash up of “carve out a niche” (supplying a product for a particular segment of the market) and “a piece of the pie” (a share of something).  The mind might be visualizing carving a pie and hence the mix up.  Also both expressions concern a focus on a small part of a greater whole.  I think the next time I order dessert I will ask for a niche of pie, and see what reaction I get.  If the waiter quickly writes down the expression I will know the malaphor love is spreading.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and sharing it with malaphor central.

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You run a hard ship

This subtle malaphor is a mash up of “you run a tight ship” (run an organization with discipline and order) and “you drive a hard bargain” (work hard to negotiate a price).  The speaker meant to say “you run a tight ship”.  The crossed wires might stem from the words “hard” and “tight”, or perhaps with “run” and “drive”, both action verbs.  The words “hard” and “ship” together might also be in play.  Thanks to Kevin Hatfield for passing this one along (and thanks to Ben Geier’s friend for saying it!).


I need to knock it out of the box

“Think outside the box” is one of the most overused idioms in recent years, and so I was happy to receive this great malaphor mixing up that trite phrase.  This is a mash up of “think outside the box” (be creative) and “knock it out of the park” (did a great job).  There is also a baseball expression, “knocked him out of the box”, describing a pitcher leaving the game as a result of heavy hitting.  However, I don’t think that was in the mix given the context.  The malaphor was spoken on the Travel Channel TV show ‘American Grilled’.  One of the contestants, who needed to score big with the judges,  said “I need to knock it out of the box”, indicating that he meant to say “knock it out of the park”.   Score a home run for Michael Ameel, who sent this one in.

American Grilled


She raked his name over the coals

My wife interrupted one of my rants the other night to point out that I had uttered a malaphor.  Of course I immediately stopped blabbering and wrote it down.  This one is a bit subtle, combining “rake him over the coals” (to scold) and “drag his name through the mud” (disparage someone publicly).  One positive about getting older is that it comes with more malaphors.


I wouldn’t nickel-pick over that

Oh boy, this is a good one.  Kudos again to Vicky Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this beauty on the tv show, “The Talk”.   Marie Osmond uttered this mash up of “nit-pick”  (overly concerned with inconsequential details) and “nickel and dimed” (to charge small amounts to someone – a form of monetary nit pick).  Perhaps pickle was also on her brain and nickle rhymes with that, or that nit and nickle have similar sounds.   The fact that Vicky is watching “The Talk” concerns me a little, but I wouldn’t nickel-pick over that.

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It’s a two way blade

This one was heard on the NPR radio show, the Diane Rehm show, last week.  The speaker intended to say “double-edged sword” based on the context.  This is a mash up of “two way street” (reciprocal situation),   “cuts both ways”, and “double edged sword”, both meaning advantages and disadvantages.  Of course I am also reminded of those swiss army knives, with the various blades and devices all in one unit.   Thanks to Vicky Ameel-Kovacs for hearing and sharing this one!


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