Please reach back out

This malaphor was spotted in the closing sentences of an email message from a tech support person: “I want to make sure we take care of all of your concerns. Please reach back out if there’s anything else we can help with.”

This is a congruent conflation of “get back (to someone)” and “reach out (to someone)”, both meaning to make contact with someone, especially to offer help. Perhaps the tech support person served in the military, and was thinking of the term “reachback”, meaning to obtain services, products, or goods that are not forward deployed. A big thank you to David Barnes for spotting this one and sending it in.

They need to roll with the times

A conversation ensued about some people resisting a new initiative at Penn State. The speaker then blurted this one out. It is a mashup of “roll with the punches” (cope with adversity, especially by being flexible) and “get with the times” (to understand or be knowledgable of modern times). “Let the good times roll” may also have been in the speaker’s mind, as I know he is a fan of The Cars. Also perhaps he was thinking of “a roll of dimes”, something he may have done in childhood. Or maybe “Roll Tide!”? A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha who self-reported this malaphor.

A fair shot at the pie

This one comes from the Washington Post’s Daily 202, authored by Olivier Knox:

“As one historian of conservative movements, Rick Perlstein, told my colleague Greg Sargent, Limbaugh played a central role in ‘the rise of reactionary populism. People accustomed to being on top — culturally, socially, economically — were facing an onslaught of liberation movements that were all about giving other people a fair shot at the pie.”

This is a conflation of “a shot at the bigtime” (a bid to become famous or successful) and “a piece/slice of the pie” (a share or part of something). And of course, “a fair shot” (an opportunity) is part of the malaphor. The speaker may also have been craving for an apple pie or key lime shot. A big thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting the malaphor.

It was earth-changing

ABC’s 20/20 aired an episode about a woman’s fraudulent fiance. He told her they were to be married by the Pope and their guests at the wedding mass could include their gay friends and that the gay friends could receive communion. The friend then uttered this great malaphor. Here is the video snippet:

This is a congruent conflation of “earth-shattering/shaking” and “life-changing” , both meaning something having a powerful effect. Maybe also thoughts about climate change going on in the speaker’s head? A tip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in.

They just decided that they wanted to give him (Trump) a walk

House impeachment manager Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) was on CNN’s State of the Union, and was discussing the impeachment trial and the verdict. Talking about Mitch McConnell’s closing argument that supported the House Managers’ arguments, she said:

“They all agreed,” she added. “They just decided that they wanted to give him a walk and they found a technicality that they created to do so.”

This is a nice conflation of “to give (one) a pass” (accept someone’s improper actions or behavior without punishment) and “walk away from (someone or something)”, (to come through on the other side of an event without suffering any harm). “Let him walk” (acquitted on a criminal charge) was probably also in the mix. Of course, “walk the plank” (to suffer punishment at the hands of someone) might have been on her mind, considering the context. A big thanks to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in!

We fought each other like tooth and tongue

Grace Panetta from Business Insider discussed 11 political friendships that crossed party lines. In the section on Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy, Hatch says:  “I have to say that we became very dear friends. That doesn’t mean we didn’t fight each other. We fought each other like tooth and tongue but afterwards, we’d put our arms around each other and laugh about it,” Hatch told NPR in 2009 after Kennedy’s death.

Given the context, this appears to be a mashup of “tooth and nail, fight/with” (furiously or fiercely) and “hammer and tongs” (energetically or enthusiastically). Tongue sounds like tong (almost a homophone) and so the speaker was probably thinking “tongs”, but that still is a malaphor. The two expressions indicate doing something with great passion, hence the mixup. A tooth is near the tongue, so the substitution of tongue for nail. A big thanks to Lou Pugliese for spotting this one.


Call the flag!

My wife was watching the Super Bowl, and shouted this one out after a play. We both realized she had mashed “throw the flag” and “call the foul”, both meaning to ask the referees to penalize a team. A big thanks to Elaine Hatfield for unintentionally saying this congruent conflation.

I would call them at their bluff

This one was heard on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, uttered by Joe himself. He was talking about the 10 GOP Senators who were in the Oval Office proposing a counteroffer to Biden’s 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and was suggesting that President Biden “call them at their bluff”. This is a conflation of “call (one’s) bluff” (challenge someone to act on their threat or prove that their claim is true, when one believes they are making a false claim) and “take (one) at (one’s) word” (accept what one says without further verifying). A big thank you to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and promptly sending it in!

I hate to beat a dead drum

Heard on a talk radio sports show. A caller was apologizing to Ron Cook for raising the same issue as all the other callers. This is a conflation of “beat a dead horse” (to continue to focus on something) and “drum into (one)” (teach someone something through intense and frequent repetition). Both idioms refer to something continuous or repetitive. Also, the word “beat” is connected to “drum”. “Beat the drum” (promote or support something or someone) might also be in the mix. Kudos to John Kooser for hearing this one and sending it in!

It’s funny monkey business

This was overheard on the train. It is a congruent conflation of “funny business” and “monkey business”, both meaning silly or deceitful conduct. I suppose combining the two makes for REALLY deceitful conduct. A big thank you to Verbatim for hearing this one and sending it in.