At least you’ve got a leg in the door

This was spoken by Ian, a longtime malaphor follower.  He said this to his wife regarding the use of acronyms at their respective jobs, and how she knows more of the lingo in his field (biological sciences) than he does of hers (clinical psychology) owing to her background.  It is a nice mash up of “leg up” (an advantage) and “a foot in the door” (first step in a process).   The anatomical mix up is evident, as it is in many malaphors.  Thanks to Ian for sharing this one!


You are shooting yourself in the foot to spite your face

Yes, that is what Sarah blurted out to her husband, and then she realized she had unintentionally uttered a malaphor.  As she said, “this is what sleep deprivation and being newly post partum will do to someone.”  The malaphor is a mix of “shooting yourself in the foot” (to cause yourself difficulty) and “cut off your nose to spite your face” (to hurt yourself in an attempt to hurt another).   Both phrases have to do with doing damage to oneself, literally (cutting and shooting) and figuratively.  Sarah’s malaphor contains serious damage!   Thanks to Sarah for sending this one in!

It will help you get your toe in the door

This mix-up was heard last week on the Today Show.  A person was giving advice on how women can network to get back into a career after being out of work for a long time.  She gave an example of web ideas and then uttered this great malaphor.  It is a mash up of “get your foot in the door” (start at a low level in an organization in order to get a better job in that organization) and “dip your toe in the water” (start carefully or test things first).   So perhaps a toe in the door is almost getting the job.  I note that Australians say “get a leg in the door” instead of “foot in the door”, indicating that they are expecting a little higher level entry position?  Certainly their minimum wage indicates so (Australia 15.96/hr vs. US 7.25/hr).  Thanks to Ron Marks for sending this one in!

He has stuck his feet in the sand

Photo of Congressman Steve Scalise

Photo of Congressman Steve Scalise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This timely malaphor is a mash up of several phrases, idioms, and ideas.  Certainly “stick one’s head in the sand” (refuse to think about an unpleasant event) and “bury one’s head in the sand” (to ignore or hide from obvious signs of danger) is in the mix, along with “draw a line in the sand” (create an artificial boundary and imply that crossing it will cause trouble).  In addition, “dig your heels in” (refuse to alter a course of action) is in play, considering context.  Sticking your feet in cement also comes to mind.  This mix-up was spoken by Steve Scalise (R-LA) at a press conference on Capitol Hill.  Mr. Scalise was referring to Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats, indicating that they would not negotiate.  You can find this beauty at about 1:30 in the video below:


Thanks to Susan Kestner for sending this current and timely malaphor in!

It’s a thorn in the foot

This was uttered at a presentation where the speaker was describing a problem.  It is a mash up of “thorn in the side” and possibly “shoot yourself in the foot”, but probably the speaker was thinking of the Aesop fable where the lion has a thorn in his paw.  Or, as “my ol’ pal” notes, we sometimes get slivers in our feet when walking barefoot.  Thanks to Cecily for sending this one to me!

They really kicked themselves in the foot

This is a mash up of “shot myself in the foot” (said or did something stupid that causes problems for the person)  and “kicked myself” (feel angry with yourself because you have done something stupid).  This was heard by Deb Rose on a local sports show in Oklahoma.  After the University of Oklahoma suffered a painful loss, making mistake after mistake and giving away the win, a local sportscaster said, “Boy, they really kicked themselves in the foot!”

They threw a bullet in their foot

This tortured malaphor was spoken by Tunch Ilkin on Steelers radio yesterday during the Steelers/Browns football game.   Tunch is a wonderful commentator and ex-Steeler, and is known for his colorful language describing Steelers games.   This time he seemed to have several thoughts buzzing through his head, as he wanted to say, that the Steelers had “shot themselves in the foot” (do something that causes problems for yourself), given that a seventh turnover had just been committed.  Perhaps the shooting idea conjured up bullets and the phrase “dodge a bullet” (evaded something) or “took a bullet” (sacrificed), both meaning the opposite of what he wanted to say.   The “threw” part of the phrase was the errant pass by the quarterback, resulting in an interception.

Sports media is a treasure trove of malaphors, many of which have been repeated on this website.   A big thank you to my wife for hearing this gem on her way home from Costco!