Anybody worth their weight in salt

This beauty was uttered on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday.  The discussion centered around sexual harassment, and what Human Resources divisions should do about it.  The speaker said, “Anybody worth their weight in salt would take allegations of sexual harassment seriously”.  This is a mashup of “worth one’s weight in gold” (very valuable, useful, or important) and “worth one’s salt” (deserving respect, especially because you do your job well).  This malaphor is a great one as the two expressions are very similar in sound and in meaning.  The word “weight” is the only distinguishing factor.  Regarding the salt idiom, it is believed that it refers to the fact that in Roman times soldiers were given an allowance of salt as part of their pay. The Latin word salarium (= the money given to Roman soldiers to buy salt) is the origin of the word ‘salary’.   A big thanks to loyal malaphor follower Paul Nance for hearing this one and sharing it.


Pick your life up by the bootstraps

This was unintentionally uttered by Caroline Carleton.  I think it is a triple congruent conflation of “pull yourself up by the boot straps”, “make something of your life”, and “pick yourself up”, all meaning to improve by one’s own efforts.  This might be the first congruent conflation trifecta posted.  “Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps” refers to pulling on high boots by means of the straps or loops attached to them at the top. Origin of the expression is early 1900s.  A big thanks to Caroline Carleton for sharing this one.

It’s coming down the horizon

This was overheard at a meeting.  It’s a perfectly formed congruent conflation of “on the horizon” and “coming down the pike”, both meaning in the future or about to materialize.   Many thanks to Susan Edwards for hearing this gem and passing it on.

Throw another kink in the wrench

This hodgepodge was referring to trying to schedule employees for their time off.  It is a mashup of “throw a (monkey) wrench into the works” (disrupt or foil a plan) and “iron out the kinks” (fixing small problems that are present in a project).  The idiom “throw a monkey wrench into the works” seems to be a difficult one for many to say correctly.  It has been the subject of prior malaphors, e.g., “a wrench had been thrown in the bucket” and “he really threw a monkey wrench into that fire”  Not sure why, but my guess it’s a rather archaic saying.  A big thanks to Dori Shand Riley for hearing this one!

It’s like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house

This was uttered by Chuck Schumer when discussing Trump’s nominee, Tom Marino, as Drug Czar.  Schumer said Marino’s confirmation would be “like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house”.

This is a mashup of “the fox guarding the hen house” (assigning the duty of guarding valuable information or resources to someone who is likely to exploit that opportunity) and “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” (a person or thing that appears harmless but is actually dangerous).  Now certainly you wouldn’t want a wolf in charge of the hen house either, but the correct idiom only indicts the fox.  A big thanks to Steve Grieme for catching this one and sending it on.

That’s nothing to sneeze home about

Here’s the background for this one:  “I was playing a board game with my friend Edil (unsure what game) a couple of days ago. Something significant happened in the game that took me and him by surprise. We both said, simultaneously, “Well, that’s nothing to sneeze home about”. Neither of us had ever used that phrase before, and we looked at each other in utter amazement.”  Not sure what you call a malaphor that two speak at once.  Must be like seeing a double rainbow.  Remarkable.  This is a nice mashup of “nothing to sneeze at” (not something that should be ignored) and “nothing to write home about” (not especially remarkable or noteworthy).  I think the common word “nothing” must have set off this nice malaphor by TWO PEOPLE AT THE SAME TIME!  A big thank you to Miiko Valkonen for hearing, saying, and sharing this one.

They pledged to pull out all the steps

This one comes from the website  Here’s the quote: “Environmentalist[s] and Democrats have pledged to pull out all the steps to save the Clean Power Plan, which they say is the most significant U.S. policy to reduce carbon emissions that has ever been put into place.” 

This is a mashup of “pull out all the stops” (use all the resources at one’s disposal) and “take steps” (take the necessary action to achieve something).  Obviously steps and stops are confused here.  So if the steps are pulled out will the Republican efforts to repeal this policy slide down and disappear?  A big thanks to Barry Eigen, Senior Malaphor Hunter, for spotting this one and sending it in.