The Chinese are spending multiple billions of dollars trying to own the technology of the future while we sit with our thumb in our ear

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden uttered this one in his speech last week in Dunmore, PA.  I believe this is a body part mashup of “close your ears (to something)” or “fingers in your ears” (ignore something) and “have (one’s) thumb up (one’s) ass” (not doing what you should be doing).   Not sure this one was on the teleprompter.  If not, perhaps Joe changed his mind mid- phrase when he was about to utter the word “ass”.   You can find the quote here:  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/09/joe-biden-economic-plan-355416

A big thanks to Fred Martin and Beatrice Zablocki for both catching this one live and sending a quick email to me.  I have a feeling that the next few months will bring an abundance of malaphors.  Keep your eyes and ears peeled!


We stemmed that curve

This is another “curve” malaphor brought to you by Frank King.  His last one was “we turned the curve”, heard on the MSNBC show “All In with Chris Hayes.  https://malaphors.com/2020/07/01/we-turned-the-curve/
This one was also heard on the same show, this time from Harris County (Texas) Judge Lina Hidalgo.  It is a congruent conflation of  “stem the tide” and “flatten the curve”, both meaning to stop the course of a trend or tendency.  You can hear this one on the Monday night, July 6, 2020 show.  It does not seem that the malaphor curve will ever be stemmed.  Another tip of the hat to Frank King for hearing this one.
Please do not stem the curve of the rising sales of my latest malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory”: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits.”  It’s available NOW on Amazon. Click this link to purchase:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

She’s the last person on the totem pole

The speaker was saying how his wife would be last to be called back to work because she’s a recent hire, and that “she’s the last person on the totem pole”.  This is a mashup of “low man on the totem pole” (person with the least amount of experience in a social or business setting) and “be the last (person) to (do something)” (very unlikely to do something).  Regarding the phrase, “low man on the totem pole”, there is an interesting explanation found in the Free Dictionary:
The humorist H. Allen Smith used this phrase as the title of a book (1941) after the radio comedian Fred Allen had used the term to describe him in an introduction to an earlier book.  The position on an actual totem pole bu the way, has no such signficiance.  Nevertheless, the term caught on quickly enough to become a cliche.
A big thanks to Sam Edelmann who overheard this one and passed it on.
Don’t be the last person on the totem pole to get my latest malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory:  Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”.  It’s available now on Amazon in paperback or kindle.  Let me tell you, it’s a real page burner!  Here’s the link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

He just let the cat out of the box

Instead of posting my new malaphor for Monday, I thought I would repost this gem from a few years ago.  This one appears in my new book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”, available NOW on Amazon.  Here is the link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

“This is another one from Senator Bernie Sanders, this time regarding a comment made by Senator Pat Toomey.  Sen. Sanders asked if Toomey would pledge not to cut Social Security and Medicare and Toomey responded, “I will not cut benefits on people who are on it right now”.  Sanders responded that Toomey “Just let the cat out of the box”.  It is a mix of “out of the box” (a product that can be used immediately) and “let the cat out of the bag” (to reveal a secret by accident).  Of course a “cat box” may have been on Sanders’ mind as he was articulating his disdain for the proposed Republican tax bill. A big thanks to Susan Ameel for hearing this one!”

And below is another nice illustration from the book drawn by my friend and dentist Dr. Cheryl Rosato!


Introducing my new Malaphor book: “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”

Instead of a Friday malaphor, I am unabashedly promoting my new malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors from Politicians and Pundits”.  It is available on Amazon NOW for a cheap $8.99! Click on the link below.
Every bathroom library deserves this gem.  And what better way to celebrate America’s birthday than ordering this patriotic look at idiom mashups?  Even the cover is red, white, and blue!
Special thanks to Cheryl Rosato again for her fantastic illustrations that make the book so special. Also special thanks to Karen Michener MacDonald and Ron MacDonald from Step2branding.com for the terrific design of the book. And thanks to the many followers who contributed to the malaphors contained in this edition, and who are thanked at the end of the book.

We turned the curve

LaToya Cantrell, mayor of New Orleans, was discussing police actions and public safety on the MSNBC show, “All In with Chris Hayes”.  This is a mashup of “turned the corner” (begun to have improvement or success after a difficult or troubling period) and “ahead of the curve” (better than average).  Both idioms are about success or improvement.  Although the topic was not about the pandemic, “flatten the curve” (slowing down the spread of a disease) was probably on the speaker’s mind as well.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one.  You can hear this malaphor at approximately 16 minutes into the show:


Can you imagine living in a mind frame like that?

The speaker was commenting on another person’s political statement that was based on a lie rather than fact.  It is a rare, three-way malaphor, combining “frame of mind” (mental or emotional attitude or mood), “mindset” (a person’s attitudes or opinions formed from earlier experiences), and “living in a world of (one’s) own” (consumed by one’s thoughts or imagination).  A big thanks to David Barnes for hearing and spotting this unicorn in the malaphor wilds.


There is a silver lining at the end of the tunnel

At first blush, this looked more like a mixed metaphor than a malaphor, but on close inspection it is indeed a mashup of two idioms.  This one comes from the local news in Baltimore:  a  Baltimore City official was giving an update on trash/garbage pickup problems, and trashmen were off work as a result of the coronavirus.  Here is the quote:

“This last week has been extremely difficult for everyone involved, but there is a silver lining at the end of that tunnel,” Chalmers said. “The Eastern District will be back up and running tomorrow. If you can’t hear the sigh of relief in my voice, I’m glad that they’re coming back.”

https://www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-ci-baltimore-dpw-update-20200623-moj7dcuxvjakjhpntqd2rnblwi-story.html

It is a mix of “every cloud has a silver lining” (every bad situation holds the possibility of something good) and “light at the end of the tunnel” (a period of hardship is nearing its end).  Both expressions involve a bad situation turning better, so this malaphor perhaps means a doubly bad situation made doubly better?  Or maybe the official was thinking of silver linings for the trashcans.  A big thanks to Fred Martin for hearing this one and sending it in!


Building a case that will withstand muster

Attorney Gerald Griggs said this one on the MSNBC show, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.  It is a mashup of “pass master” (satisfactory) and “withstand scrutiny” (something successful even after review).  This is a subtle one for sure.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and passing it on!


The genie is out of the bag

This malaphor was found in the Wall Street Journal: Devesh Shah, retired from Goldman Sachs, wrote this gem in an article about volatility:

“It started out as a metric,” said Devesh Shah, who first helped make the widely watched volatility gauge, the Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, tradable in 2004 while he was at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, before retiring as a partner. “Now…the genie is out of the bag and volatility is everywhere.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/volatility-is-everywhere-the-market-tactic-thats-driving-stocks-haywire-11591977978?mod=hp_lead_pos5#:~:text=%E2%80%9CIt%20started%20out%20as%20a,bag%20and%20volatility%20is%20everywhere.%E2%80%9D

This is a mashup of “the genie is out of the bottle” (something has been done that cannot be changed) and “let the cat out of the bag” (allow a secret to be known).  Genies and cats “come out” of something, leading to this mental mixup.  A big thank you to Cecily Franklin who spotted this beauty!