Don’t count your eggs before you put the basket down

This sage piece of advice was given by the contributor’s ex.  It is a nice mashup of “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”  (don’t make plans based on future events that might not happen) and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” (don’t focus all your attention one thing or area).  Both phrases start with “don’t” and both involve hens (chickens and eggs) so there is bound to be confusion.  Apparently after saying this he rationalized the phrase by noting some eggs may fall out or break as you’re putting the basket down.  This is true.  Thanks to Zozie for sharing this one!



You walk that balance

Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neil Huntington on his pregame show was asked how he can juggle playing to win vs giving inexperienced players a chance to play. He answered, “You walk that balance.”  This is a combo of “walk that fine (or thin) line”  (balance two competing ideas or groups) and “balance (something) against (something else)”, meaning to compare two things, typically one positive and one negative. in order to make a decision).  This is a subtle but excellent conflation, as the two ideas involve competing ideas.  Also, the speaker may have been thinking of gym class, walking the balance beam in gymnastics class.  A shout out to Bob Marchinetti for hearing this one.

That went over like a lead brick

This was overheard at a meeting.  It’s a nice mashup of the phrases “went over like a lead balloon” (to fail completely or go over badly) and I think “it hit me like a ton of bricks” (surprised or shocked).   “Drop a brick” (to announce a surprising bit of news) might also be in the mix.  And yes, lead bricks are manufactured – see

A big thank you to Jenny Hensley who dropped this one on me!

He was a sitting deer

This one was uttered on the radio by the color commentator for the Pittsburgh Panthers football team.  He was describing a Youngstown receiver who was standing still.  It is a nice mashup of “sitting duck” (someone who is vulnerable to an easy attack) and “deer in the headlights” (of a paralyzed or frozen manner due to shock or bewilderment).  Deers and ducks are often confused, right?  Pittsburgh is deer hunter territory, so the speaker may have been thinking of upcoming deer season and an easy target.  A big thanks to Mike Ameel for hearing this one and passing it on!

They sold me down the creek without a paddle

The contributor does not recall where she heard this one, but it’s certainly worthy of a post.  This is a mashup of “they sold me down the river” (betray) and “up a creek without a paddle” (having difficulty or being in a difficult position).  Creeks and rivers seem to be the culprit here.  Not sure what the speaker intended here, as this is an incongruent conflation (mixing of two phrases with different meanings).  I posted an earlier malaphor that is similar and is a congruent conflation (mix of two phrases with the same or similar meaning): “Up a tree without a paddle”.

Interestingly, the expression “sold down the river” dates from the mid- 1800s, and alludes to slaves being sold down the Mississippi River to work as laborers on cotton plantations. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.  

A big thanks to Jennifer Diello for hearing this one and passing it on.

The world is going to shit in a handcart

This colorful malaphor was uttered by someone referring to the Trump presidency.  It is a nice congruent conflation of “gone to shit” and “going to hell in a handbasket (or handcart)” both meaning a person or system is in a bad state and getting worse.  This malaphor is very similar to a previous one posted, “the project is going to pot in a handbasket” (9/15/02).    A big thanks to Kerry Reynolds for hearing this one and passing it on.

The White House is lying its teeth off

This was heard on the Rachel Maddow Show from Astajuan Subasang of the Daily Beast, who was talking about Gorka leaving the Trump Administration: “…the White House is lying its teeth off.”  This is a nice mashup of “lying through your teeth” (telling someone something that you know is completely false) and “lying your ass off” (lie continually).  I suppose if you can lie your ass off it is not hard to think you can do the same with your teeth.  A big thanks to Frank King who heard this one and passed it on!