2020 Malaphor of the Year – Number 5

Shoot from the shoulder – submitted September 2020

Number 5 in the countdown came from the mouth of Joe Biden. At his town hall he said:

“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd Thursday night in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton.


This is an excellent example of an incongruent conflation (unintentional blend of two or more idioms with opposite meanings). “Straight from the shoulder” (simple, direct, and forthright) is what the speaker meant to say, and this was mixed with  “shoot from the hip” (to speak rashly or recklessly).  Several people reported this one, including Bruce Ryan, Pamela Pankey, John Pekich, and Kathy Meinhardt.


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