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It’s nothing off his teeth

This was overheard recently at a court proceeding.  The speaker was stating that something was easy for her client.  I believe it is a congruent conflation of  “nothing to it”, and “no skin off his teeth (or nose)”, both meaning something that is not difficult.  Anyone see another idiom in this malaphor?  Certainly it can’t be said after eating a spinach pizza.   A big thanks to Sam Edelmann for sending this one in.

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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!


It was so cold my lips were chattering

And my teeth were blue?  This is a wacky mixture of “teeth are chattering” and “lips are blue”, both describing being extremely cold.  A big thank you to Steve Grieme for hearing this one from his son on a recent family vacation and sending it to Malaphor Central!


That’s no skin off my teeth

Heard this beauty last night during a dinner conversation.  This is a mash up of “no skin off my nose” and “by the skin of our teeth”.  


I had to bite my teeth

This common malaphor (check the hits on google!) is used when someone is wanting to say “I had to bite my tongue” (struggling to not say something you really want to say). My guess is that the speaker is also thinking of “I showed my teeth” (displaying anger) or possibly “sink your teeth into” (become deeply involved).  The latter is probably more likely as the words bite and sink are four letter words and are active verbs.  Also, the tongue and teeth are near each other and so this adds to the confusion.  Finally, teeth bite and tongues don’t so the mind might be trying to correct itself?

Teeth of a model.

Teeth of a model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)