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You have to be on your P’s and Q’s

Ike Taylor, a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was overheard saying:

“With a future Hall of Fame quarterback like Drew Brees, man, you have to be on your P’s and Q’s. He’s the captain of that team and it showed today. If he sees something, he’s going to hit it. He doesn’t miss a lot. Regardless of how much you feel like you’ve got him rattled, he stays in the pocket. He did what he needed to do today.”

This is an excellent malaphor, mixing “on your toes” (stay alert) and “mind your P’s and Q’s” (pay careful attention to one’s behavior).   A big thank you to me for reading this in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2014/12/01/Gerry-Dulac-s-two-minute-drill-Steelers-vs-Saints/stories/201411010179

 

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We don’t step on each others’ feathers

This wonderful malaphor comes from Matt Deppe, first time contributor to the site.  Last week a friend was trying to explain to him why he and his house mate get along so well.  “I guess it works so well because we don’t step on each others’ feathers”.  This is a mash up of “step on someone’s toes” (to insult or offend someone) and “ruffle someone’s feathers” (to annoy or irritate someone).


It’s right under my eyes

This subtle, perfectly formed malaphor is a mash up of “right under my nose” and “right before my eyes”, both meaning something obvious and not hidden.  This congruent conflation might also seem obviously correct but on reflection it is indeed a malaphor.   It is another example of mixed up idioms involving body parts, particularly on the head for some reason.  Another big thanks to the Midwest Regional Senior Malaphor Hunter, Mike Kovacs.


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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