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Squirmish

Malaphors are not just idiom blends, but can be word blends as well (if you click on the category Word Blends you will find the ones I have posted).  This word blend was uttered by Sarah Palin in her speech endorsing Donald Trump for President.  She uses it in this context:

“And you quit footing the bill for these nations who are oil-rich, we’re paying for some of their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries. Where they’re fighting each other and yelling ‘Allahu akbar,’ calling jihad on each other’s heads forever and ever. Like I’ve said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/us/politics/sarah-palin-endorsement-speech-donald-trump.html?action=click&contentCollection=Science&module=MostPopularFB&version=Full&region=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article&_r=0

It is a mash up of “squirm” (to wriggle the body from side to side) and “skirmish” (a brief fight between small groups).  While one might argue that this is actually a portmanteau, I would disagree.  A portmanteau is an intentional combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word, such as smog (smoke and fog).  A word blend malaphor is unintentional (I believe Ms. Palin did not mean to say “squirmish”) and it does not create a new word that means something (I don’t think).  Kudos to John Costello for finding this one and passing it on!

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