He’s a walking time bomb

Okay, I said this one the other day, discussing The White Lotus character, Armond. It’s a mashup of “ticking time bomb” (a person, place or thing that at any moment could cause havoc and disastrous results) and “walking disaster” (someone who seems to constantly be in or cause great amounts of trouble). Both idioms describe trouble, for sure. I may also have been thinking of the Erie pizza bomber.

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist

A flash in time

Mika Brzezinski said this one on Morning Joe on August 24 (6:07 am EST). It is a conflation of “a flash in the pan” (someone or something that draws a lot of attention for a short period of time) and “at this moment in time” (currently, right now). Both phrases describe something happening now and quickly, making it almost a congruent conflation. Mika might have also been thinking of “flashback”. A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.

He’s swinging with the fish

This was spotted in a New York Times article. Eduard Flores pleaded guilty to posting violent threats against Senator Raphael Warnock (D – Ga) before and during the January 6 insurrection. He included this malaphor in one of his threats. Note the use of “casting” immediately before uttering the mashup.

This “proud” boy was definitely thinking of fish…and unfortunately, ropes. This is a conflation of “sleeping with the fishes” (to be murdered and have one’s body dumped in a body of water) and “swinging from a rope” (to hang someone). A malaphor sometimes unwittingly reveals the truth. In this case, racism. A tip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for spotting this one!

Under a lot of heat

This was spoken by Bill Maher on Real Time with Bill Maher on the August 13 show (heard at 01:04:20). This is a congruent conflation of “facing or getting a lot of heat” and “under a lot of pressure”, both meaning to be facing or enduring a great amount of stress caused by some compelling influence. A big thanks to Frank King for once again hearing and sending in an excellent one.

Until the cows come home to roost

This beauty was overheard at a meeting. The speaker meant to say chickens but after the word “until” was uttered (uddered?) the vision of cows appeared in his head. This incongruent conflation is a mix of “until the cows come home” (for a very long time, forever) and “the chickens come home to roost” (one’s previous actions will eventually have consequences). Barnyard animals clearly are the culprits here. A big thanks to Jonathan Eliot for sending this one in!

Toe a fine line

This one was uttered by Julie Tsirkin on MSNBC a few days ago. It is a nice conflation of “toe the line” (adhere to the rules of something) and “walk a fine line between (something)” (to navigate between two sides or positions). One uses one’s toes to walk so perhaps that is where the idioms mixed. By the way, the term “toe the line” comes from track, when the runners in a race line up with their toes placed on the starting line or mark. It began to be used figuratively in the early nineteenth century. Another tip of the hat to Frank King who heard this one and shared it.

The veil is unraveling

This one was seen on a political podcast about people realizing that the media are not always honest. It is a conflation of “lift/pull back the veil” (to expose the truth) and “things are unraveling” (a situation is becoming chaotic). A big thanks to Verbatim for spotting this one and sending it in!

I was out like a rock

This one was heard during a conversation about how everyone slept the night before. This is a congruent conflation of “out like a light” and “slept like a rock”, both meaning to get a deep and restful sleep. “Slept like a log” is probably the most common idiom for restful sleep, but “slept like a rock” is also acceptable, as is “top” and “baby” as well. See also https://malaphors.com/2020/02/24/you-were-out-like-a-log/. A big thanks to Joanne Grieme for hearing this one and passing it on.

First off the bat

Chris Hayes from MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes utters this one at the 1:40 mark:


This is a mashup of “first off” (first of all, before anything else) and “right off the bat” (immediately). “Right off the bat” seems to be an idiom that is mixed quite often. See, for example, https://malaphors.com/2013/05/23/right-from-the-bat/ and https://malaphors.com/2012/10/27/right-out-of-the-bat/. The mind is going batty with these malaphors. A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in!

He closes the page and it is done

Meghan Dressel, wife of Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel, was talking about how her husband keeps a journal but discards it when the book is full. This is a nice congruent conflation of “turns the page” and ” closes the book”, both meaning to forget the past, make a transition and move on. Mike Kovacs get the gold for hearing this one and passing it on.