You knew that you struck lightning

This is a nice mash up of “lightning strikes” and “struck gold”, the latter meaning to hit it big.   This gem was heard on the Howard Stern show this morning during an interview with Dan Rather.  Stern asked Rather about the 1968 Democratic Convention where he was physically assaulted on camera.  Rather continued to report on the story despite the assault.  Stern said to Rather, “you knew that you struck lightning.”  Rather then repeated the malaphor as he continued discussing the incident.   A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for spotting this one!

Howard Stern Radio Personality Howard Stern attends an


This is a perfect example of the frying pan calling the kettle black

I am not making these up.  This one was from a commenter (UltraLiberal) in response to a New York Times Op-ed by Gail Collins entitled “The Luck of the Pontiff”  –  The commenter posted:


“Anti-Catholicism, with over one Billion Catholics in the world,I don’t think.  Catholics have to worry about extinction,This is a perfect example of the frying pan calling the kettle black.”

This is a mash up of “the pot calling the kettle black”  (criticizing someone for a fault that you have) and “from the frying pan into the fire” (going from a bad situation to a worse situation).  This is similar to previous malaphor postings  – “That’s the cat calling the kettle black” and “look who’s calling the kettle black.”  Obviously this proverb seems to be misunderstood, or at least not remembered correctly.  But then again maybe that’s just me calling the kettle black.  Many thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one in the New York Times on-line comments.  
Want to hear for yourself? Collins speaks on Thursday, February 17, at 5 p.m. at Ira Allen Chapel, University of Vermont, Burlington. Institutional sexism

I think that’s the pink elephant in the room

This masterpiece is a mash up of “elephant in the room” (obvious problem no one wants to discuss) and “seeing pink elephants” (recovering from an alcoholic bout).  It is particularly interesting as it was uttered by Alex Rodriguez, baseball player for the New York Yankees:

Rodriguez, who admitted to taking steroids from 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers, said he supported baseball’s efforts to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs. But he seemed to question the Yankees’ alleged attempts to keep him from returning to the team.

“I think that’s the pink elephant in the room,” Rodriguez said. “I think we all agree that we want to get rid of PEDs. That’s a must. I think all the players feel that way. But when all the stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract, I think that’s concerning for me. It’s concerning for present [players] and it should be concerning for future players as well. There is a process. I’m excited about the way I feel tonight and I’m going to keep fighting.”

Read A-Rod hopes for return to Yankees on Monday on


This beauty was caught by John Costello.  Kudos to John for a timely (and Freudian slip?) malaphor.  See also entries “the white elephant in the room” (Sept 6, 2012), “the 800 pound gorilla in the room” (Nov 15, 2012), and “memory like a hawk” (Nov 17, 2012).  Elephant malaphors apparently come in all shapes and colors.


Look who’s calling the kettle black

This is a congruent conflation of “look who’s talking” and “that’s the pot calling the kettle black”, both referring to pointing out hypocritical behavior.   The best and most common malaphors are mixtures of phrases that have the same or similar meaning.

That’s the cat calling the kettle black

This is a mash up of “the pot calling the kettle black” and “cat calls”.  Let’s also throw in black cats for good measure, and maybe “cattle calls”?  Pot and cat are three letter words ending in t, another possible cause for confusion.  Thanks to Kimberly for providing this gem.

Black Cat Portrait

Black Cat Portrait (Photo credit: Georgo10)

Every tree has a silver lining

The speaker was obviously meaning to say “every cloud has a silver lining”, but where did the tree come from?  Possibly he was thinking of a silver maple, those messy trees that every yard seems to have.  Or, as my “ol pal” suggests, the word “sliver” instead of “silver” floated up in the brain soup, suggesting wood.   “Barking up the wrong tree” also might have been in the mix, even though the meaning is not remotely close to the intended meaning.  Any other suggestions out there?   Thanks to Art for sending this one to the site.

The white elephant in the room

This little ditty was spoken at a meeting last week all the way from Afghanistan.  It is a mash up of “elephant in the room” (obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed) and “white elephant” (a burdensome possession whose costs outweigh its value).  The crackerjack research team at Malaphors HQ (my “ol’ pal”) tells me there are few, if any, elephants in Afghanistan, much less white elephants.  Tip of the toque to Jim Washabaugh, loyal malaphor follower, for sending me this gem.

Treat him with golden gloves

This is another of “the master’s”, and I have had difficulty figuring out his genius on this one.  Obviously he was trying to say “treat with kid gloves” (deal with someone very gently) but what is the other phrase or idiom?  Immediately what comes to mind is “golden gloves” (name for amateur boxing competition) but what about “golden handshake” (excellent severance package) or “good as gold” (well-behaved)?  I think the best possibility is “golden touch” (a person successful in everything he tries) as “touch” refers to “hands” or in this case “gloves”.  Or maybe I am just over analyzing….

Green behind the ears

This is a blend of “green with envy” (jealous) and “wet behind the ears” (novice, inexperienced).  I first heard this one back in 1984, and for some reason it seems to be a fairly common one.   Even President Obama said it during the 2008 Obama/McCain debates – see my Malaphors in the Media section on this website to watch him.  My guess on the mix up stems from the words green and wet, both adjectives for grass.

Perhaps a better interpretation comes from “my ol pal” in her comments.   “Green behind the gills” (nauseated) might be the blended idiom with “wet behind the ears” given that gills and ears are in close proximity and that the words “around” and “behind” both indicate location and are also both 6 letter words.  Let’s add to the equation “greenhorn” which means naive or new to the situation, identical to the definition of “wet behind the ears.”  Not sure what I would do without you, “my ol pal”.