The exact quote is “any fine gold in there would be music to my eyes”, recently heard on the show “Gold Rush” last Sunday. Given the context, the mash up is “music to my ears” (make someone happy) and “a sight for sore eyes” (a welcome sight), both describing the speaker’s emotions. As we have learned, mixing body parts is common in malaphors. A big shout out to Michael Ameel for hearing (and seeing) this one!
This is a mix of “keep an ear to the ground” (alert and listening for clues) and “keep your eyes wide open (or peeled)” (vigilant and watchful). This subtle conflation was heard on Bloomberg news:
Question from interviewer: how do you have such success picking funds?
Ans: we keep our eyes to the ground.
The speaker quickly corrected himself and said: “We keep our ears to the ground and look ahead.” Self caught malaphor. Nice. A big thank you to John Costello for hearing this one.
Alison (check her blog at www.absolutely-write.co.uk ), a follower of this website, was drinking coffee in a neighborhood cafe, trying not to listen to the eager young man in a suit sitting behind her, who was talking loudly into his phone. As he was finishing up his conversation, he said “Yeah, well, let’s take each one by ear”. She correctly noted that the speaker was probably muddling up “let’s take each one as it comes” and “let’s play it by ear”. Thank you Alison for submitting this malaphor!
I heard this one at lunch yesterday from a former colleague, Cindy. We looked at each other and said, “malaphor”! It is a mash up of “talking my ears off” (excessive talking) and “telling me off” (scold someone). Telling also sounds like yelling, which I think also was going on.
This one is similar to an earlier malaphor, “put your shoulder to the grindstone” (posted July 20, 2012 – see body parts in index), except it mixes “keep an ear to the ground” (devote attention to watching or listening to clues) and “keep your nose to the grindstone” (work hard and constantly). While these two idioms have different meanings, they both express diligence in an action. They also both have the word “keep” in them. Finally, adding to the confusion are the use of body parts. Body parts are a common source of confusion for some reason, particularly if they are in close proximity – in this case, ears and noses. An amusing aside – I heard this one from a supervisor who was giving me advice.