It’s a powerhorse

Bill Goldberg, host of the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” uttered this word blend malaphor when describing a particular sword.  This is a congruent conflation of “powerhouse” and “workhorse”, both describing a person or thing having great energy or strength.

Word blends are a subset of malaphors.  They are an unintentional blending of two or more words.  If you type word blend in the search engine on this blog or go to the index and scroll down to Word Blends you will see the many word blends I have posted.  Some examples are “Buckminster Abbey” (Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey and maybe Buckminster Fuller), and “blinched” (flinched and blinked).  The word blend malaphor is different than the portmanteau.  A portmanteau is an intentional blend of two words to create a new word with its own definition.  An example is smog (fog and smoke).  Word blend malaphors are simply mixed up words with no separate definition and are said unintentionally.  I hope you enjoyed my wordplay lesson of the day.

A big thank you to Anthony Kovacs for hearing this word blend and sending it in.



It definitely has my radar up

This was heard on Morning Joe on May 17, uttered by Mika Brzezinski discussing the missing SARS reports and Ronan Farrow’s story.  It is a nice mashup of “on my radar (screen)” (considered important) and “has my antenna up” (curiosity or interest).  “Have my back (or dander) up” (get someone angry) might also be in the mix, but I doubt it considering the context (although the whole Cohen affair might be ticking her off).  A big thanks to that Malaphor Extraordinaire, Frank King, for hearing this one.  He certainly has the ears of a hawk.


He broke the scoop

Rachel Maddow uttered this malaphor the other night, talking about Ronan Farrow’s latest scoop.  It is a mashup of “get the scoop” (get the news) and “break the story” (the first to address an issue, usually news).  Since “the scoop” is usually the news, this fractured saying makes some sense.  It also has a little assonance to it, so to speak.  Another thank you to Frank King for sharing this one.

He’s bald as a bat

A work colleague was attempting to describe why a helmet might feel uncomfortable for a customer, saying “Admittedly he’s bald as a bat.  This is a nice mashup of “bald as a coot (or cue ball)” (completely bald) and “blind as a bat” (having poor vision).  I like the alliteration here but bats indeed have hair.  Coots are not bald either.  Coots have prominent frontal shields or other decoration on the forehead, with red to dark red eyes and coloured bills. Many, but not all, have white on the under tail. The featherless shield gave rise to the expression “as bald as a coot,” which the Oxford English Dictionary cites in use as early as 1430.  A shout out to Gibbon for hearing this one and sending it in.

Enjoyed this malaphor?  Then you would love my book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon.

The buck stops at the top

This is a companion to yesterday’s malaphor, “the fish rots from the top”.  Interestingly, this malaphor was heard on the same show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, regarding the same subject: discussion of a Trump official remarking about John McCain dying soon.  This one was spoken by Ginger Gibson, Reuters political correspondent.  It is a mashup of “the buck stops here” (taking full responsibility) and “top of the ladder (food chain)” (the position of most importance).  A big shout out to Beatrice Zablocki who heard this one and sent it in.

The fish rots from the top

‘The (new) Master” has spoken yet again.  Chris Matthews uttered this mashup as he was discussing the Trump staffer who said about McCain, “he’s dying anyway”.  This is a mix of the idioms “a fish rots from the head down” (when an organization fails, the chief executive is the root cause) and “top of the ladder (or food chain)” (the position of most importance).  The “head” is certainly at the “top” of a person, which could have cause Mr. Matthew’s mental hiccup.  This is one of many from his lips, so please loyal followers, watch Mr. Matthews with baited ears.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this Matthewism and sending it in.

Retraction of “on the cards”

“On the cards” is a British expression meaning likely to happen (the British version of the American expression “in the cards”)-

Bill Neely is Irish so it appears this was not an unintentional uttering.  Thanks to Mario for pointing this out.  Given the mistake, will there be anymore malaphors posted?  It’s on the cards.