You are biting off your nose to spite your face

During an excellent discussion on Facebook, one of my friends and loyal malaphor follower and contributor wrote this one and another of my Facebook friends (also a loyal malaphor follower and contributor!) immediately recognized it as a bona fide malaphor.  This is a mash up of “cutting off your nose to spite your face” (use self-destructive means to try to solve or fix a problem) and “biting off more than you can chew” (taking on more than you can deal with).  Certainly the words bite, chew, and cut are all similar and probably added to the mix up.  Also both idioms are of equal length and contain the word “off”.   Perhaps the speaker was also thinking of an episode from “The Walking Dead”.  Lots of noses bitten off.

The origin of “cutting off your nose to spite your face” is interesting.  Wikipedia states that “the phrase is known to have been used in the 12th century. It may be associated with the numerous legends of pious women disfiguring themselves in order to protect their virginity. These cases include Saint Eusebia, Saint Ebba, Saint Oda of Hainault and Saint Margaret of Hungary.  The most famous of these cases was that of Saint Ebba (sometimes called Æbbe the Younger), the Mother Superior of the monastery of Coldingham. In 867 AD,Viking pirates from Zealand and Uppsala landed in Scotland. When news of the raid reached Saint Ebba, she gathered her nuns together and urged them to disfigure themselves, so that they might be unappealing to the Vikings. In this way, they hoped to protect their chastity. She demonstrated this by cutting off her nose and upper lip, and the nuns proceeded to do the same. The Viking raiders were so disgusted that they burned the entire building to the ground with the nuns inside.”

A big thanks to Beverly Rollins Sheingold VanDerhei for writing this one and Donna Cosentino for spotting it!

Don’t bite or cut your nose off!  Instead, buy the malaphor book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors” available now on Amazon!  Just click here:   For $6.99, you get lots of laughs and a terrific bathroom book.

bite your nose


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