I got by by the squeak of my teeth

This is a congruent conflation of “by the skin of my teeth” and “squeaked by”, both meaning just barely.   My teeth seem to squeak when I rub my fingers over them, particularly after a good dental cleaning, so I can see where the speaker might be confused.  The phrase “squeaky clean” used to describe clean teeth (and other things) also comes to mind.  All in all, I think this malaphor is an improvement over the idioms noted above, don’t you?  A big squeaky clean thank you to Beverly Rollins Sheingorn VanDerhei (now there’s a mouthful!) for sending this one in!


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!


You nailed that right on the head

This one comes to us courtesy of CBS Sports.   Mike Carey, the “CBS Officiating Expert” on the NFL, said this beauty during the Denver-Kansas City game.  This is a congruent conflation of  “hit the nail on the head”  and “nailed it”, both meaning to do exactly the right thing.  This is a particular good one, as it is subtle and combines phrases with the same meaning.  Some of the confusion lies in the visual of hammering a nail on its head.   It is similar to “You hit it right on the nail”, reported on 8/29/12 in this website.  A big thank you to Mike Kovacs for reporting this one!

english-idioms-hit-the-nail-on-the-head


I’m biting my words

Precisely.  That’s what we all do when we utter malaphors.  This one is a mash up of “eating my words”  (admission that what you said was wrong) and “biting my tongue” (stop yourself from speaking).  The speaker, Kevin Hatfield, was attempting to say eating my words but perhaps felt he bit off more than he could chew.  Biting and eating are part of the confusion, both actions by the mouth.  “My” is also shared, adding to the mix up.   Thanks to Kevin Hatfield for blurting this one out!

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I’m fuming at the mouth

This is a congruent conflation of “fuming over (someone or something)” and “foaming at the mouth”, both meaning to be extraordinarily angry.  The context makes sense:  the speaker was trying to make a left turn against oncoming traffic and said, “”I’ll call you back in a minute. I’m fuming at the mouth trying to make this left turn”.   “Running on fumes” also may be in the mix, as car fumes might certainly have been on her mind as well.  A big thanks to Joseph Newcomer for sending this one in!


It’s music to my eyes

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!


They were going butt-to-butt

In describing an angry argument, the speaker uttered this malaphor, a mash up of the phrases “head-to-head” and “butting heads”, both describing a confrontation or argument.  Head butting also comes to mind, among other images…  I will not display a picture for this malaphor.  Many thanks to Naomi David for giving me this gem!


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!


This news hits me in the old jugular

Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present

Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robert Griffin III’s quarterback guru, Terry Shea, was stunned to hear Griffin had been benched in favor of backup Kirk Cousins
and rendered inactive for the rest of the season. “This news hits me right in the old jugular.”  This is a mash up of “hit me in the gut” (surprising news) and “go for the jugular” (strike quickly and immediately).   I think perhaps the speaker was also thinking of “the old one-two” (two quick punches) as I cant think of anything else where “old” would sneak in there.   Thoughts anyone?  Thanks to John Costello for sending this one in.  You can read the malaphor in its entire context below:

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/usatoday/article/3988865


It added another feather to his bow

Bow, Arrows, & Quiver

Bow, Arrows, & Quiver (Photo credit: Travis S.)

This is a mash up of “another string to his bow” (an Australian and British idiom meaning an extra skill or qualification), “another arrow to his quiver” (American version of the same),  and “a feather in his cap” (an honor or award).  The confusion certainly lies in the meanings of both phrases which are similar, but also that bows and arrows conjure up feathers in headdresses.   Arrows also contain feathers at the ends.  I can also see the speaker confusing bow with boa, and that of course leads to feather boas, a must have item in burlesque shows.  Lots going on in this malaphor.  Thanks to Eric Marsh for sending this one in.