About

WHAT IS A MALAPHOR?

A malaphor is a mixture of two idioms, creating a sort of malaprop in metaphor form.   They are uttered by everyone unintentionally.  The best ones are the most subtle, sounding correct at first blush and then leading to quizzical looks.

ORIGIN

It is believed that the term was first coined by Lawrence Harrison, a government official in the Agency for International Development, in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post in 1976.  I later  defined the term in Urban Dictionary.  See also the brilliant article by Hofstadter and Morris in the Michigan quarterly review: Vol. 28, No. 2.

PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG

I have been collecting malaphors for many years, and have posted some periodically on Facebook with friends.  This blog is my way of sharing these goofy mixtures with everyone.  I plan to post one daily – a “malaphor of the day”.  That way you will get a smile or chuckle each day, or a bit of torture, if you find them stupid and have masochistic tendencies.  I also would like to hear from you about my posted malaphors, and/or submit any that you have heard or read recently.   I will then post them, giving you credit of course.   Keep your ears open!

Davemalaphor

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24 Comments on “About”

  1. Peter says:

    Yesterday I saw a woman on the subway here in Beriln wearing a button that read “beating a dead one horse town” …looked like it might be a band name but Google doesn’t turn anything up.

  2. Cecily says:

    Yesterday I attended a presentation by a piano technician who described a particular problem as a “thorn in the foot” of piano tuners.

  3. ellenengland says:

    I think this is a malaphor derived from having the feeling of a knot in the pit of one’s stomach.

    ” I had a pit in my stomach most of the day yesterday after hearing about the situation with the elementary school children.”

    Found on:
    http://www.gensiniwx.com/2013/05/moore-ok-tornado-warning-upon-further.html

    Thanks for providing a place to share!

  4. ellenengland says:

    I have heard this one a few times in different contexts. I think it is derived from the feeling of having a knot in the pit of one’s stomach.

    “I had a pit in my stomach most of the day yesterday after hearing about the situation with the elementary school children.”

    Found at the diary of a very compassionate storm chaser:
    http://www.gensiniwx.com/2013/05/moore-ok-tornado-warning-upon-further.html

    Thanks for providing a place to share this fun!

    EE

    • davemalaphor says:

      Yes, I think this is a good one. Mixes “the pit of my stomach” with “knot in the pit of my stomach”. Subtle difference between pit of and pit in. Hence a common malaphor. Will post. Thanks!

  5. Sheva Gunnery says:

    I just heard a coworker utter the phrase, “you’re too smart for your own britches,” obviously a combination of the phrases “you’re too smart for your own good” and “too big for your britches”. I thought of you immediately.

  6. Peter says:

    Just caught myself using one in an email this morning — “pounding the bushes” as a mixup of beating the bushes and pounding the pavement — you’d think the alliteration would help me keep them straight, although they seem to mean almost the same thing.

  7. Elle says:

    I don’t know if it’s one you’ve already heard, but ‘I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it’ is a malaphor that seems to perfectly sum up the way I deal with problems – ignore them until I can’t anymore, and then destroy any chance of fixing them!

  8. Got another one for you, Dave. I just read this in an email as a reason for a colleague postponing a task: “The snow day threw a loop into things.” What’ll it be next time? Letting sleeping dogs eat the first draft?

  9. Elissa says:

    I heard one the other from a long time friend, we were having a chat between two co-workers and she said “They go together like oil and ice” Based off the two idioms about fire and ice and oil and water. I think she meant that they don’t get along and they bicker a lot.

  10. […] the self-anointed Malaphor King points out, “a malaphor is a mixture of two idioms, creating a sort of malaprop in metaphor […]

  11. Dave says:

    Some of these malaphors are leaving me high and dry as a kite!

  12. Sébastien Bertaux says:

    Thank you Dave,

    so much fun reading your newsletter. Difficult to make one because english is not my mother tong but be sure that a malaphor a day keep the doctor away!

    Seb (belgian citizen)

  13. Simon says:

    I heard an accidental one a few years back – “he really hit the nail with his head”

  14. Allan Muir says:

    An Afrikaans friend’s status update yesterday started with the phrase “Holy Hell and a handbasket!”

  15. Cezane says:

    I love metaphors! They are styles i use mostly for my articles! Following this blog right away. Cheers 🙂


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