This one was said on the show 20/20 by an investigator on the murder of Kelly Clayton. He was referring to a statement made by Michael Beard describing his involvement in the matter. This is a nice congruent conflation of “go off the rails” and “fall apart”, both meaning something starting to go wrong or going into disorder. Then again, maybe he was thinking “falling off the wagon” (return to drinking after a period of sobriety).
A big thanks to Mike Kovacs once again!
This one was heard on the show “48 Hours” (January 14th episode). The sister-in-law of a murder victim was referring to the lifestyle that the victim had been drawn into by the accused, his girlfriend (recording adult videos). This is a mashup of “pay the price” (to experience the consequences of one’s misdeeds) and “take a/its toll” (to have a cumulative negative effect on someone or something). The speaker’s likely experience of paying tolls on the highway may have contributed to the mental confusion. The malaphor is uttered at the 23:56 mark.
A tip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for spotting yet another malaphor!
On “The Beat with Ari Melber”, Melber begins the show by saying that Senator Ron Johnson is “under heat” for his involvement in the January 6 coup attempt. Here is the link:
This is a congruent conflation of “under fire” and “feeling/taking the heat”, both describing a person who is receiving criticism or hostility. At least Melber didn’t describe Johnson as “in heat”. A big thank you to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in. Frank is a malaphor regular!
Daniel Goldman (D – NY) was on the Lawrence O’Donnell show (MSNBC) and was talking about the new GOP-led House Judiciary Committee. He started to say “stick a cog” but then uttered fork. This is a triple mashup of “stick a fork in it” (cease whatever is happening or being said), “wheels of justice turn slowly” (justice is slow but will come eventually), and “cog in the wheel” (someone who is functionally necessary but of small significance).
A tip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in!
New York Times reporter Luke Broadwater was on the Fresh Air podcast talking about the 2020 election and the J6 committee. He was saying that there was a lot of pressure put on state election officials to overturn the election but that they “stood the line”. This is a congruent conflation of “hold the line” and “stand firm”, both meaning to not yield to the pressure of a difficult position. A big thank you to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in!
Ping Pong has its paddles, and Tennis has its racquets. The popular sport that is a mashup of those two sports is Pickleball, and I was telling my teammates that I received a new Pickleball raddle for Christmas. I immediately was called out for a word blend malaphor, mixing paddle and racquet. Why not call it a raddle? A big thanks to Staci DeKunder and Teri Gruber for spotting the mental mixup.
Heidi Pryzblya said this one on MSNBC’s Alex Wagner show last night. She was talking about the new majority House Republicans and that they are “kicking up a lot of smoke”. Given the context, I believe this is a mashup of “kicking up some dust” (making a big disturbance or great show of anger, especially by complaining, arguing, fighting), and “blowing smoke” (to deceive or grossly exaggerate). Dust and smoke might be mixed in the speaker’s mind. Also, “kicking up a fuss/row/storm” (causing a disturbance by complaining or arguing) might be involved. Is it possible to complain and lie at the same time? Seems common these days. A tip of the toque to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and sending it in!
It’s now time to reveal this year’s Malaphor of the Year. But before I unveil this masterpiece, here are the winners of past years:
2015 – I have a pulse to the ground (submitted by Paula Garrety)
2016 – Let’s give them a round of hand! (submitted by Martin Pietrucha)
2017 – Welcome to my shoes (submitted by Steve Kovacs)
2018 – Whatever turns your boat (submitted by John Kooser)
2019 – My old car shit the bucket (submitted by John Fischer)
2020 – You’re a one-horse pony (submitted by Bruce Ryan and Ron MacDonald)
2021 – The new President says he wants to turn over a new page (submitted by Frank King)
Before I reveal the winner, I want to give a shout out to the runners-up:
They won by the hair of their skinny teeth teeth (January 2022 – submitted by Ron MacDonald). A nationally televised mashup compliments of Al Michaels during an NFL playoff game.
I wouldn’t trust her with a 10 foot pole (March 2022 – submitted by Frank King). Sometimes it’s just a word or two.
Wegners (August 2022 – submitted by me). A great word blend malaphor uttered by Dr. Oz of two grocery chains, Wegman’s and Redner’s.
He’s a one-trick wonder (September 2022 – submitted by Jonathan Eliot). A nice mix of one-trick pony and one-hit wonder.
But the winner this year is backseat quarterback, submitted by Chuck Hatsis (January 2022). Chuck was telling his wife that he knows she doesn’t like him to be a “backseat quarterback”. This is a congruent conflation of “backseat driver” and “armchair quarterback”, both referring to someone who is eager to give advice without responsibility. A chair has a seat so this might have contributed to the mental hiccup. This also might be a nice description of all those QBs who sit on the sidelines waiting for the starter to leave the game.
Happy New Year everyone!
This one comes from The Daily from the New York Times (Thursday December 15) about the Russian military mobilization earlier this year. Sabrina Tavernise said “let’s set the table here”. I believe based on the context she meant to say “set the scene” (establish the setting or describe something so that others can understand it) and mixed it with “on the table” (up for discussion). A big thanks to Yvonne Stam for hearing this one and sending it in!
Los Angeles Times legal correspondent Harry Litman tweeted: “Wow. DOJ wants to hold Trump in contempt for violation of subpoena. A natural outgrowth of the trickling out of documents and failure to comply with subpoena from last May. But quite a strike across the bow.” This is a mashup of “shot across the bow” (a verbal or physical attack meant to serve as a warning) and perhaps “strike a blow” (to do something that contributes to another’s defeat). Bow and blow are similar looking words. Also a “strike across the face” (invitation to a duel) could be in play.
A shout out to Yvonne Stam for spotting this one and sending it in.