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Everyone runs for the fences

Martha MacCallum on Fox News said this nicely formed malaphor.  It is a mashup of “run (or head) for the hills” (depart quickly) and “swing for the fences” (to act or perform with maximum intensity).  In baseball, you swing and then run, and that is possibly the mental image the speaker had when she uttered this one.  Also, the word “for” is common in both phrases.  A big thanks to Ralph Aikman for hearing this one and sending it in.

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They really had to think on their toes

This malaphor comes courtesy of a local Birmingham Alabama news story about firemen rescuing people caught in a flash flood.  A fireman said:  “ The firefighters really had to think on their toes due to the changing conditions. “  This is an excellent example of a congruent conflation, mixing “think on (one’s) feet” and “be on your toes”, both meaning to be alert and react quickly.  Obviously the mix here is “toes” and “feet”.  A big thanks to David Stephens who was on his toes for this one.


He’s turning over a new lease on life

This perfectly formed malaphor is a mashup of “turning over a new leaf” (to change one’s behavior, usually in a positive way) and “a new lease on life” (a new chance for happiness, usually after a hardship).   “New” is common to both idioms, and the words “lease” and “leaf” are similar sounding.  Both I think contributed to the mental mix up.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for sharing this one with the malaphor world.

If you liked this malaphor you’ll love my book on the subject, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon for a cheap $6.99.  A must for every bathroom library.


I’m trying to keep an open book

A physician asked someone about doing a fellowship.  The response was this nice malaphor.  It is a mashup of “keep an open mind” (to avoid making a judgment about something before considering it) and “I’m an open book” (a person’s life with no secrets).  “Open” is the source of the mix up here.  A big thanks to Jesse Garwood for sharing this one and admitting saying it!


He cleared muster

“The Master” strikes again.  Chris Matthews uttered this beauty on the Rachel Maddow show on July 9, 2018, referring to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  It is a congruent conflation of “passed muster” and “cleared for approval”, both meaning to be accepted as adequate.  Pass/clear is the mixup here.  Anyone who visits this site regularly knows Mr. Matthews is a malaphor goldmine.   A big thanks to “Eagle-Ear” Frank King, the Mental Health Comedian, for hearing this one and sending it in.


We really kicked their clocks

A few guys were reminiscing about their days as soccer coaches, and one reflected on how good his team was, uttering this nice malaphor.  It is a congruent conflation of “kicked their butts” and “cleaned their clocks”, both meaning to win easily.  The words “kick” and “clock” have full consonance, and so the speaker might have grabbed both in the idiom soup we call English.  A big thanks to John Kooser for sending this one in, and admitting that he said it.


He’s keeping it under his vest

This was heard on the Rachel Maddow show.  Vanity Fair reporter Emily Jane Fox was talking about Michael Cohen, and what he may have on Trump.  She then uttered this beauty.  It is a congruent conflation of “close to the chest” and “under wraps” (to keep one’s plans secret from others).  The vest/chest rhyme and close/under words probably contributed to the mix up.  A big thanks to “Eagle-Ear” Frank King for hearing yet another one on MSNBC, your malaphor channel.