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.


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!

I think I have put in my stripes

Subtlety makes the best malaphor.  When spoken, you pause and consider if  the phrase was correct.  It is a passing thought, because you will quickly forget it.  Today’s malaphor fits that bill.  The speaker was explaining why he should retire.  It is a mash up of “earned my stripes” and “put in my time”, both meaning hard work that deserves an award.  Kudos to Ed Brady for sending me this congruent conflation!

I don’t want to be a bandwagon fan

This malaphor is a mash up of “fair-weather fan” (someone who supports a team only when it is winning) and “jump on the bandwagon” (joining something only when it is popular).  It is a congruent conflation as both phrases concern a person who is being supportive of something or someone only because it is the popular thing to do.   This malaphor has evolved into an accepted phrase, apparently, as it can be found in Urban Dictionary and has been used by several people (e.g., Cuba Gooding Jr.).  Thanks to Katie Hatfield for uttering this one unintentionally and then recognizing it as malaphor worthy.



He’s three sheets in the bag

Couldn’t wait until next week to post this beauty.  This is another congruent conflation (mixed idioms with the same or similar meaning), combining “three sheets to the wind” and “half in the bag”, both describing someone who is intoxicated.  The confusion might also lie in sheets sometimes being in laundry bags?  Then again, the speaker, Lisa Davies O’Donnell, might have just had a few too many…  Thanks Lisa for contributing to the malaphor library!



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