Religion breathing down your shoulder

There was a discussion on Facebook about why divorce used to be uncommon. A poster said, “With religion breathing down your shoulder, you also weren’t allowed to give up.” This is a nice congruent conflation of “breathing down (one’s) neck” and “looking over (one’s) shoulder”, both referring to someone monitoring another very closely. The neck and shoulder are in close proximity, and so the mental image may have created the confusion.

Malaphors involving the word “shoulder” seem to be very common, probably because there are so many idioms with the word “shoulder” in them. Some of the best shoulder malaphors posted on the website include “she wears her heart on her shoulder”, “I finally got the monkey off my shoulder”, and “he threw a cold shoulder on that idea”. Check out the website and type the word “shoulder” in the search block.

A big thank you to Yvonne Stam for spotting this one and sending it in.


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