They are scrambling tooth and nail

On the June 19, 2018 Rachel Maddow show, reporter Jonathan Blitzer uttered this malaphor when he was talking about parents held by the Border Patrol trying to keep track of their kids.  It is a mashup of “fighting tooth and nail” (fighting as hard as possible in order to achieve something) and “scrambling like crazy” (push and struggle to get something).  Both idioms have similar meanings and the active verbs “scramble” and “fight” were probably mixed up in the brain.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one!


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