It’s funny monkey business

This was overheard on the train. It is a congruent conflation of “funny business” and “monkey business”, both meaning silly or deceitful conduct. I suppose combining the two makes for REALLY deceitful conduct. A big thank you to Verbatim for hearing this one and sending it in.

Just by the nick of the hair

Heard this one today on The Price is Right. A contestant said this after spinning the big wheel with the arrow barely landing on the right amount. This is a congruent conflation of “just in the nick of time” and “by a hair”, both describing an extremely slim or short margin. A big thanks to Elaine Hatfield for hearing this one and yelling it to me upstairs.

I’ve never been a burn-down-the-ramparts sort of person

Attorney Roberta Kaplan was discussing her belief in institutions and uttered this malaphor. It is a mashup of “burn down the house” (destroy something completely) and “storm the ramparts” (to take over something quickly). The quote is about 3/4 of the way in the article:

A tip of the hat to Tom Justice for spotting this one and sending it in.

Let’s blow this puppy

Heard from a group leaving a gathering. This ribald malaphor is a mashup of “let’s blow this popstand” (to leave a place, particularly one that has become dull or holds no interest) and “let’s shut this puppy down” (to shut or close down something). James Carville famously said the latter in reference to Biden’s huge primary victory. Here’s the link:

The origin of “let’s blow this pop stand” appears to be fairly recent.  In the 1950’s a popular teen hangout was around the local drug store, which used to have a soda shop inside, or at a soda fountain (pop stand). In the slang of the day, “Let’s blow this pop stand” meant “let’s leave this no-longer-interesting place.” No puppies were involved.

A big thank you to Lou Pugliese who heard this one, deconstructed it, and sent it in. He did so with a straight face (I think).

I’m not the smartest bulb in the room

In the continuing sharpest tool/brightest bulb series of malaphors, I give you this one. Ron Cook, a Pittsburgh sportswriter, was on 93.7 The Fan, a sports radio show. He was talking about how he had trouble using Zoom and uttered this nice mashup. It is a congruent conflation of “not the sharpest tool in the shed” and “not the brightest bulb in the chandelier”, both describing someone who is not intelligent. Res ipsa loquitur, I guess. “Smartest guy in the room” might also be in the mix.

Malaphor followers will recognize this kind of mashup, as the phrases to describe someone who is of low intelligence get mixed all the time. I call this phenomenon “idiom overload”.  I have posted other variations on this theme – see and

Also see

A big thank you to John Kooser for hearing this one and sending it in!

The inmates are going to be running this ship

Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont) was talking about McConnell’s demand that the Democrats promise to keep the filibuster intact. Tester noted that the Democrats are now in the majority and should not accede to McConnell’s demand. Here is the quote:

“Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader. We can get sh** done around here and we ought to be focused on getting stuff done,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “If we don’t, the inmates are going to be running this ship.”

This is a mashup of “the inmates are running the asylum” (the people least capable of running an organization are now in charge) and I believe “rats leaving/deserting a sinking ship” (the least loyal people will be the first to abandon a project). My guess is that Tester thought of Republicans and then associated them with rats, activating this nice malaphor.

We want to pay a great love, great love to all of the people that have suffered

Trump said this in his tarmac speech as he was leaving Andrews Air Force Base to return to his Florida home. In talking about the victims of Covid, he uttered this sentence. It is a mash up of “pay (one’s) respects” (to offer or expess one’s condolences) and “send/show (one’s) love to (someone)” (convey a message of one’s love to someone). A big thank you to Bruce Ryan for catching this one and passing it on!

Trying to put up smoke flares

Erin Burnett said, in reference to Trump’s defenders, that they were “trying to put up smoke flares to confuse the truth.” She says this at 4 minutes into a clip entitled, ‘Photographer Snaps Notes of MyPillow CEO After Visiting Trump.’

This is a mash-up of “‘putting up a smoke screen” (an action that functions to conceal or divert attention away from one’s true plans) and “sending up (or firing off) a flare” (to send a signal). A big thanks to Torre Thomspson for sending this one in, and remarking that “where there’s smoke, there’s flare.”

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.