Stem this dam

Heidi Przybyla was on Nicole Wallace’s MSNBC show, Deadline White House, and was talking about members of Congress coming forward and admitting that Biden won. She said there is a “question if those coming forward are going to be enough to stem this dam for part of the country.” This appears to be an incongruent conflation (mix of two idioms with opposite meanings) of “stem the tide” (stop the course of a trend or tendency) and “break the dam” (allow information to flow). A big thanks to Bruce Ryan and Frank King for both hearing this one and sending it in.


I think that’s going to throw them for a curve

This one was spoken by Brad Fox on the HGTV show “Should I Stay or Go”. The homeowners were given an unexpected choice. This is a congruent conflation of “throws (someone) a curve” and “throws (someone) for a loop”, both meaning something unexpected that upsets or confuses someone. “Throw” is the common denominator here that causes the confusion. I have previously posted its bookend, “throws you a loop”, and you can revisit that malaphor at this link – https://malaphors.com/2014/06/09/the-business-side-always-throws-you-a-loop/. A tip of the hat to Yvonne Stam for hearing this one and sending it in!


Don’t hold your breath until the chickens are hatched

This one was heard on a political podcast warning both Democrats and Republicans to proceed with caution about the SCOTUS nomination of Amy Comey Barrett. The speaker was warning both sides to not think they are in control and know what is coming. This is a conflation of “don’t hold your breath” (don’t expect something to happen that will not happen) and “don’t count your chickens (before they hatch)” (not to expect something to happen before it has happened). Both idioms allude to tempering one’s expectations, or being cautious/wary of some desired or expected outcome. Both phrases begin with the word “don’t”, which probably led to the mental mashup. Chickens and eggs are commonly found in malaphors. Just type those words in the search engine on the website and see what comes up. A big thank you to Verbatim for hearing this one and sending it in!


We are being held at an arm’s pace

This great mashup was uttered on the Morning Joe show by Dr. Rick Bright, the immunologist who is now part of the Biden coronavirus task force. He was talking about the Trump administration’s refusal to work with the Biden task force. It is a conflation of “at arm’s length” (a person or organization purposely not connected so as not to influence one another) and “at a snail’s pace” (very slowly). This malaphor really describes the speaker’s meaning as it conveys the Trump administration not only moving slowly but not conveying any information. A big thanks to Sam Edelmann for hearing this one and passing it on!


I’m going through the hoops

The speaker was buying a new house, and someone asked how the process was going and this was his reply. It is a perfectly formed conflation of “jumping through hoops” (to face or complete many challenges that seem excessive or arbitrary) and “going through the motions” (to do the base functions of some activity without much thought or interest). Both phrases involve going through a series of activities, and both contain the word “through”, causing the mental hiccup. There is a legit phrase “going through hoops” but with the extra “the” I think this constitutes as a malaphor. A big thanks to high school friend Phil Chumley for unintentionally saying this one and recognizing that it was malaphor worthy!


That’s not what you call leading from the front foot

Nikema Williams (D-GA) was talking on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports about the current poor leadership. This is a mashup of “leading from the front” (to act or behave the way one advises or espouses) and “getting off on the right foot” (to have a positive or favorable start). I suppose that is better than leading from the back foot. Another big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one.


Let’s don’t kick this down the chain

Bill Weir on CNN said this while discussing the returns in Arizona. He was discussing the results in different counties and was attempting to say, “let’s don’t jump to any conclusions”. It is a conflation of “(move something) up the chain” (seek approval at the next level) and “kick the can down the road” (defer or postpone a definitive action). Given the context, “kick (something) around” (to discuss something) might be in play. “Up” often means “down” and vice versa in the Malaphor World. A tip of the toque to Steve Hubbard for hearing this one and sending it in.

CNN Digital Expansion 2018, Bill Weir

She flipped her tune

This is another from Naomi David. She was talking about someone changing her opinion. This is a congruent conflation of “change (one’s) tune” and “flipped”, both meaning to change or reverse course, or change sides in a controversy. “Flipped the script” (make a total reversal or radical change) might also have been on the speaker’s mind (a shout out to Verbatim for noting this). In this current political climate, she may have been thinking of states “flipping” from red to blue or vice versa. A big thanks to Naomi and to Katie Norwood for hearing this one and passing it on.


So they should have their eggs in a row — eggs in order.

Chris Cuomo was talking with Chris Cilliza on CNN the night of the election. They were talking about states that should go for Biden and Cuomo blurted out this great malaphor. It is a nice conflation of “get your ducks in a row” (get well-organized) and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” (don’t risk everything on one venture).  Idioms containing the words eggs, ducks, or baskets seem to get commonly jumbled.  “All your eggs lined up” comes to mind. https://malaphors.com/2012/07/25/all-your-eggs-lined-up/ Type any one of these words in the search and you will find many postings on the subjects.

A big thanks to Jane Di Paola for hearing this one and passing it on!


Throw the kitchen sink at the wall and see what sticks

Ben Ginsburg, a Republican lawyer who spearheaded former George W. Bush’s election appeal, was on 60 minutes and was talking about Trump’s strategy in contesting this year’s election. This is a mashup of “everything but the kitchen sink” (nearly everything one could imagine) and “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” (if you make enough attempts or guesses, some of them will be correct or useful). Both idioms involve trying just about anything to achieve a result, so this could easily be called a congruent conflation. Perhaps the speaker was thinking about making spaghetti in his kitchen. Based on the clip below, I don’t think this was an intentional mashup. Another huge thank you to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.