It was like pulling blood out of a stone

This is a perfect congruent conflation.  It mixes “getting blood out of (or from) a stone” and “like pulling teeth”, both phrases meaning to do something with great difficulty.  The speaker was finding a particular essay difficult to write and remarked that writing it was like pulling blood out of a stone.  A big thanks to Red C. for sending this one in from the U.K.


I’m going to pull his button

Push or pull?  It’s a choice we make everyday.   In this case, the speaker made the wrong choice but a great malaphor.  It is a mash up of “pushing his button” (to do the exact thing to make someone act the way you want) and “pulling his leg” (to fool or trick someone).  A big thanks to Jack de Golia for sending this one in!


He kept pushing my strings

Push or pull?  Buttons or strings?  Oh, the mind twists and turns in mysterious ways, particularly as one grows older.  I heard myself saying this one awhile back.  This is a confused conflation of “pushing his buttons” (knowing ways to make a person angry) and “pulling strings” (“to use influence to get something done”).    Of course, I am sure Pinocchio must have said this at some point to Geppetto.

Cover of "Geppetto"

Cover of Geppetto