I know that area like the back of my neck

In context, this seems to be a mash up of “(to know something) like the back of my hand” (to know a place very well) and “neck of the woods” (a region or locale in the country).  The speaker was going to a party north of the city. When someone asked him if he knew how to get where it was being held, he said “Well, I know that area like the back of my neck”.  Interesting thing is that he had never been in the area, but he had GPS.  Of course, he might have been thinking that it was a “pain in the neck” to visit an area unfamiliar to him, or that neck and back are similar looking and sounding words, but who knows what lurks in the mind?  Body parts, particularly the hands, are for some reason the source of many malaphors.  I have posted several, including “I don’t know it off the top of my hand”, “I have it on the tip of my hand”, and the ever popular “we’ve got our hands cut out for us”.  A big thanks to Joseph Newcomer for sending this one in!


Let’s roll up our hands and all get together

Howard Fineman on the tv show “Hardball” said a few days ago that Congress’s attitude will not be “let’s roll up our hands and let’s all get together” on various issues.  This is an amusing mixture of several thoughts, including “roll up our sleeves” (prepare for hard work), “get your hands dirty” (involve yourself in all parts of a job), and “joining hands” (working together), the latter sort of a “kumbaya” approach to working.  Rolling up one’s hands is similar to the Master’s wonderful malaphor, “Let’s roll up our elbows and get to work!” (see posting dated 7/30/12).  Many thanks to “my ol’ pal” for spotting this one and sending it in!

He had the nurses eating out of his fingertips

I believe this is a congruent conflation of “eating out of his hand” and “twisted around his little finger“,  both meaning to control or manipulate others.   “At your fingertips” (within reach) might also be in the jumble.   Regardless, this malaphor paints an unsanitary picture but one worthy of posting on Labor Day.  Here’s to all the hardworking nurses out there!  A shout out to Steve Grieme for sending this one in.

It was a hands down case

This is a congruent conflation of “hands down” and “slam dunk”, the first an adverb and the second a noun, both meaning easily.  The context reveals the reader meant to say slam dunk, as he was referring to an arbitration case with a former employer that he expected to win.  A big thank you to Mike Kovacs who heard this one on NPR’s This American Life last week.

I don’t know it off the top of my hand

This is a mash up of “off the top of my head” and “offhand”, both meaning to say something without preparation.  Hand and head both look and sound similar, and are both body parts, all adding to the confusion.   I have heard this one many times in conversation and in meetings.

We’ve got our hands cut out for us

This is a mixture of “our work cut out for us”  and “we’ve got our hands full”, both meaning a lot of work is ahead.  There are other phrases involving the word “hands” that might be in play –  “many hands make light work”, all hands”, “helping hands”.    Perhaps the severed hand below will help…