She gave him the green flag

This timely (happy St. Patrick’s Day!) malaphor was discovered in a novel called The Call of Cassandra Rose, Kindle Ebook edition :

“Had I given him the green flag to play away from home?” Thought by main character worried about her husband having an affair.

While it may have just been said by someone who is color-blind (or a race car enthusiast), I think it is actually a great example of an incongruent conflation (mix of two idioms with opposite meanings). I believe this is a mashup of “the green light” (giving permission to proceed) and “a red flag” (a sign of a problem needing some attention). I have several examples of incongruent conflations, including this one: “not the sharpest cookie in the jar” (sharp cookie = someone smart + “not the sharpest knife in the drawer” = not intelligent.

A tip of the Irish flat cap to Margaret Grover for spotting this one and sending it in.


2 Comments on “She gave him the green flag”

  1. Barry Eigen says:

    Re: Green flag. Not sure about this one: it appears to be a modern term used in relationships, which is the context of this quote. Try googling “Green flag meaning in relationships.” It’s hard to keep up with the language of the whippersnappers.

    • davemalaphor says:

      I actually saw this when I was doing my malaphor research (!) and decided it didn’t fit in context and that the author did not mean a green flag relationship. As I understand that term, it means a person you are interested in is a stable person. In the book, the term was referring to tacitly allowing her husband to have an affair.

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