I haven’t gotten onto the ropes yet

Remember the old detective series, Columbo, starring Peter Falk? Well, one of our devoted malaphor followers was watching a few episodes and came across this nice mashup. In Season 2, Episode 2, Columbo got a rescue dog, which he left in the car with the windows closed. When he came back to the car, a little girl berated him for not leaving the windows open a crack. Columbo said he was sorry because it was his first dog and “I haven’t gotten onto the ropes yet.” This is a congruent conflation of “I haven’t learned the ropes” and “I haven’t gotten the hang of it”, both meaning to learn how to do something correctly. “Cotton on (to something)” may also be in the mix as that idiom also means to begin to understand something. The words “hang” and “ropes” may have muddled Columbo’s head when he uttered this nice malaphor.

A tip of the hat to Barry Eigen for hearing this one and sending it in!


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