The guardrails are coming off

This one is from a CNN news story:  “The White House official who was in contact with CNN’s Brown said that with the impending departures of both Chief of Staff John Kelly and Mattis, there is a feeling that the guardrails are coming off. The official says “of course it’s crazy. Anyone looking at this has got to think there’s some craziness going on.”https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/22/politics/shutdown-mattis-whitaker-trump/index.htm
This is a congruent conflation of “off the rails” and “the wheels are coming off”,  both meaning a state of chaos or disorder.   The words “rails” and “wheels” were confused, probably due to the association of both of them (wheels on a railroad car).  Of course, if the guardrails are removed, a state of chaos would probably ensue.  A big thanks to Ron MacDonald for spotting this one.
  

2 Comments on “The guardrails are coming off”

  1. Douglas Wilson says:

    I think you’re being a little picky. I’ve heard this again just this week, and the image to me is of guardrails flying away from the roadway ahead. It works.

    • davemalaphor says:

      You might be right, but I think my deconstruction is correct. Some malaphors are spoken so often that they become accepted as part of the lexicon. This might be a good example.


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