He was over his depth

From Barbara Tuchman’s 1972 Pulitzer Prize winning Stilwell and the American Experience in China: 1911-1945, Chapter 20, “We Ought to Get Out – Now”

Referring to Patrick J. Hurley, US Ambassador to China (1944-1945), 

“Starting with breezy overconfidence, he was soon, for all his native shrewdness, over his depth.”

This is a congruent conflation of “over his head” and “out of his depth”, both meaning to be in a field or situation that exceeds one’s knowledge or ability. “Over” and “out” are confused in this one. Props to Martin Pietrucha who is never over his depth when it comes to finding malaphors.


4 Comments on “He was over his depth”

  1. patrickwardphd says:

    I’d like to submit a malaphor. I was working with this guy on stress management. He described his stress this way: “Its like I got this 800 pound gorilla on my chest”.

    Patrick, therapist.


  2. Ronald A Marks says:

    Looking good Dave,

  3. Judge Ronald Marks says:

    “Wegermens” or however oz spells it I trust he will lose

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