When the shit hit the storm

Howard Stern was commenting on the Capitol riots on his radio show and uttered this nice mashup of “shit hits the fan” (serious trouble suddenly starts) and “shit-storm” (a violent or chaotic situation). I would say this was a pretty accurate description of the event. A tip of the hat to Jack Chandler for hearing this one and sending it in!

Howard Stern is glad he didn’t end up becoming a radio DJ. “I didn’t want to play The Beatles,” he says. “I wanted to be The Beatles.

The new President says he wants to turn over a new page

Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes said this one, referring to Biden’s plans. This is a nice congruent conflation of “turn over a new leaf” and “turn the page”, both meaning to make a fresh start or start anew. This one makes a lot of sense as the “leaf” in the expression “turn over a new leaf” refers to a page in a book. A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.

Not the sharpest cookie in the jar

Harvard University astronomy professor Avi Loeb was discussing life on other planets and the possiblity that other life forms have advanced faster than we have. Here’s an excerpt from a CBS local interview in Boston:

“We know that half of the sun-like stars have a planet the size of the Earth roughly the same distance from the star, so they can have liquid water on the surface – that’s the chemistry of life,” he said. “That means that if you roll the dice billions of times in the Milky Way galaxy, we’re probably not alone, and moreover we’re probably not the sharpest cookie in the jar, the smartest kid on the block.”

https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/01/07/avi-loeb-extraterrestrial-book-alien-technology-oumuamua/‘We’re Probably Not Alone’: Harvard Astronomer Believes Alien Debris Passed Earth In 2017boston.cbslocal.com

This is a nice example of an incongruent conflation (two idioms with opposite meanings mashed together) of “sharp cookie” (someone very smart, witth, or clever) and “not the sharpest knife in the drawer” (not intelligent). Interestingly, this same malaphor was uttered by Stephen Colbert the other night on the Late Show. A big thanks to Ron MacDonald for finding this one on CBS local interview and Susan Ivison for hearing it on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The Capitol was ground central

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine was talking about the insurrection on Good Morning America. Here’s the quote:

“Clearly, the Capitol was ground central in the mob’s behavior. Donald Trump Jr, Rudy Giuliani, even the president were calling on supporters and hate groups to go to the Capitol, and in Rudy’s words, ‘exercise combat justice,'” said Racine. “We’re going to investigate not only the mob, but those who incited the violence.”


This is a mashup of “ground zero” (the site of any disaster) and “grand central station” (a place that is very busy or chaotic). This conflation results in a phrase that describes a chaotic place of disaster, certainly an apt description of what happened in the U.S. Capitol. Also a nice coffee shop! A big thanks to Linda Bernstein who caught this one and sent it in!

He was giving me the bum shoulder

This was uttered in haste, as most malaphors are. It is a conflation of “give the cold shoulder” (to snub someone) and “bum rap” (an unfair accusation or punishment). Both are negative actions by someone to someone else. “Give someone the bum’s rush” might also me in the mix, as this is not only snubbing someone but actually forcing someone to leave. A big thanks to Susan Ivison for hearing this one and sending it in!

Regarding the idiom “to give/show the cold shoulder”, the term dates from the early nineteenth century. It was frequently used by Sir Walter Scott and believed to come from the custom of serving hot meat to welcome guests, and of serving a cold shoulder of mutton or beef, considered a much inferior dish, when they had outstayed their welcome.

Trump led us down the tubes

This beauty was seen on a Facebook comment, discussing Trump supporters storming the United States Capitol. It is a conflation of “going down the tubes” (to become much worse) and I think, given the context, “lead (someone) down the garden path” (to deceive or mislead someone). The mashup takes on a whole new meaning, and describes the situation perfectly. Interestingly, I posted a previous malaphor that Trump uttered and is a close one: “Clinton is selling them down the tubes”. See https://malaphors.com/2016/08/28/clinton-is-selling-them-down-the-tubes/

A big thank you to David Stephens for spotting this one and sending it in!

He’s thrown Mitch McConnell out of the bus

Douglas Brinkley, professor of history, Rice University, was being interviewed on CNN. He was asked what he thought Trump was doing to the Republican Party. Brinkley responded by saying Trump was dividing  the Republican Party and “ he’s thrown Mitch McConnell out of the bus”. This is a mashup of “throw (someone) under the bus” (avoid blame by allowing someone else to take responsibility) and “go out (of) the window” (discard or toss a plan or way of thinking). “Under” and “out of” are the culprits here. The phrase “throw (someone) under the bus” has been mashed up a lot. See, for example, other variants on the website such as “he can drink anybody under the bus” – https://malaphors.com/2018/08/29/he-can-drink-anybody-under-the-bus/ and “Trump is not going to throw Paul Ryan over the bus” https://malaphors.com/2017/04/05/trump-is-not-going-to-throw-paul-ryan-over-the-bus/. By the way, he did. A big thanks to Brenda Hubbard for hearing this one!

Press the envelope

Kurt Warner on NFL Network’s Saturday Night Football uttered this mashup. It is a congruent conflation of “press the issue” and “push the envelope”, both meaning to exceed the test the limits of something. “Press” and “push” are similar in sound and meaning, so I think that’s the culprit here. A big thanks to timmyk for hearing this one and sending it in.

Republicans didn’t blink twice

From Robert Reich: “Republicans didn’t blink twice when they handed out $6.3 billion in tax breaks to their wealthy corporate backers, but when it came to getting direct relief to struggling Americans $600 was the best they could do. Their priorities couldn’t be clearer.” https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/12/25/how-richest-1-percent-came-out-big-winners-covid-relief-bill

This is a mashup of “did not blink” (to not show any shock or surprise) and “not think twice” (act or do something without hesitating). “Blink” and “think” rhyme, contributing to this mental hiccup. A tip of the hat to Barry Eigen for spotting this subtle one.

2020 Malaphor of the Year!!

The countdown is over. 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)

This year’s winner made national news and was uttered by President-elect Joe Biden, so I am hoping we have barely scratched the tip of the iceberg on malaphors coming from him. This one was submitted by Bruce Ryan in December. Drum roll, please……..

You’re a one-horse pony

Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked President-elect a question : “Mr. President-elect, do you still think that stories about your son Hunter were Russian disinformation?” Biden responded, “Yes, yes and yes. God love you, man. You’re a one-horse pony, I tell ya.”

This is a great mashup of “one-trick pony” (someone who is limited to one talent or repeats the same thing) and “one-horse town” (small, unimportant place). Both have the word “one” in them and of course are tied with the equestrian theme. Since this was uttered just a few days before Christmas, the song “Jingle Bells” and “a one-horse open sleigh” might have been on the President-elect’s mind. Bruce Ryan spotted this one first, but also kudos to Ron MacDonald, nutshell_blogger, Robert McLaughlin (via Steve Grieme) and Fred Martin for also sending it in. Happy New Year!