The speaker and his co-workers were serving as greeters for a Christmas Eve service. A mutual friend was approaching from a distance and the speaker casually but jokingly yelled this malaphor out. It is a nice mash up of two idioms involving the word “cat” – “look at what the cat dragged in” (exclamation about a person who just arrived, presumably late) and “the cat is out of the bag” (the secret has been revealed). A big thanks to Joel who uttered this mixed metaphor and for sending it in! I expect to see more from him as he has a reputation for unintentional idiom blending!
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This beauty was uttered by Vice President Joe Biden on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He was talking about both parties and noting that they were not very good “at listening to the concerns of ordinary people busting their necks.” http://info.msnbc.com/_news/2016/07/27/35882707-morning-joe-news-joe-biden-says-the-democratic-party-overall-hasnt-spoken-enough-to-white-working-class-voters?lite
This is a nice congruent conflation of “busting their butts” and “breaking their necks”, both meaning to work very hard. The confusion not only stems from the similar meanings of both phrases but also the words “bust” and “break”. In addition, as noted here many times, body parts are often mixed up in the wonderful world of malaphors. A big thanks to Linda Bernstein for catching this in the NY Times and passing it on!
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This nice malaphor was written by Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson on his Facebook page, relating his affection for his son. It is a mash up of “above and beyond” and “over the top”, both meaning extreme or more than is required. Idioms with direction words are commonly mixed. Many thanks to Judy McLendon Knaub for spotting this one and passing it on!
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The speaker was describing something that was hard to find. This is a nice mash up of “diamond in the rough” (someone or something whose good qualities are hidden) and “needle in a haystack” (something extremely hard to find). Both idioms involve something hidden, which I imagine caused the mental hiccup. Also both phrases are the same symmetrically, i.e., four words and sharing the word “in”. In addition, needles and diamonds are both sharp objects , and haystacks tend to be unkempt and rough. Like a diamond, this malaphor just gets better on closer inspection.
Perhaps in Trinidad and Tobago this phrase is an accepted one, as President Anthony Carmona described the new chairman of the Salaries Review Commission (SRC), Kyle Rudden (picture below), as “a diamond in the haystack.” http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2015-10-28/diamond-haystack.
A big thanks to Gabe for hearing this one and sending it in!
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Yvonne Stam, a frequent contributor to this site, heard this gem from her sister, who was referring to children reaching middle school age. It is a congruent conflation of “going to pot” and “going to hell in a handbasket”, both meaning declining or getting worse. As Yvonne says, the speaker was probably confusing the word “handbasket” (surely an antique word) with handbag. She also points out that “to hell in a handbag” is noted in Wikipedia as a common version. This malaphor is similar to one I posted in 2012, “the project is going to pot in a handbasket” (https://malaphors.com/2012/09/15/the-project-is-going-to-pot-in-a-handbasket/) which was uttered in the 70s. Perhaps handbaskets were more common then. Pot was, that’s for sure.
A big thanks to Yvonne Stam for hearing this one and sending it in!
A spin on MLK’s famous speech? No, but a pretty good word blend, combining “quandary” (dilemma) and “conundrum” (a puzzle). As I have explained in previous posts, single word malaphors are different than portmanteaus. A portmanteau is an intentional blending of two words to form a new word with a specific meaning, such as “smog” (a blend of smoke and fog). A single word malaphor is an unintentional blending of two words to create a new word that is incorrect, such as “Buckminster Palace” (Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace), or a “faceover” (makeover and facelift). Interestingly, Quandrum is the name of a Belgian Ale brewed by the Barrel of Monks brewery located in Boca Raton, Florida. It is described as a “quadraphonic Belgian style quadrupel aged several months in rum barrels”. Cheers! A big shout out to Tiffany G. for hearing this one and passing it on!
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The speaker was telling someone that his statement was hurting his own argument. It is a nice blend of “shoot yourself in the foot” (foolishly harm one’s own cause) and “cut (someone) off at the knees” (thoroughly humiliate or squelch). Any frequent reader of this blog will know that idioms containing body parts are often confused and mixed. In this case, feet and knees are the culprits. Shooting and cutting, both action verbs that involve penetration, also seem to play a part in this malaphor. Many thanks to Lara Hayhurst Compton for saying this and Jody Compton for sending it on!
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