We don’t want you breathing down our back

This mashup was found in an article in the January 21, New York Times magazine section, titled “They want to destroy us”.  It is a conflation of “breathing down (one’s) neck” (monitor closely, usually in an overbearing way) and “get off my back” (stop harassing me).  Invading one’s space is the common denominator in the two idioms and probably was the cause of the confusion.  A big thanks to Barry Eigen who spotted this one, and commented that “it’s certainly hard to picture this happening unless the recipient of the breathing has no shirt on.”  Agree.


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