An omnichannel approach blurs the waters

Here’s this one in context:
“Where an omnichannel approach blurs the waters is looking at the user-first approach across the landscape of all the devices the customer uses to achieve a task. In doing so, omnichannel compromises the agendas of business silos and industry trends such as mobile-first, since consumers and their needs drive any approach.”
This is a congruent conflation of “muddy the waters” and “blur the distinction”, both meaning to confuse the issue.  This is a particularly good one as “muddy” and “blur” have similar meanings and sounds.  And who can forget that great blues artist, Blurry Waters?  A big thank you to Marcia Johnston for seeing this one and passing it on.  As she said to me, given the context, “this water sure looks muddy and blurry to me!”

Get down to the soup and nuts of it

The speaker was discussing an issue and wanted to get to the heart of the matter.  This is a mash up of “get down to the nuts and bolts” (get down to the basic facts) and “everything from soup to nuts” (almost everything one can think of).  “Get down to brass tacks” (begin to talk about the important stuff) might also be in the mix given the context.  And then there is the Soup Nazi (nutsy?) who also wanted everyone to just get to the heart of the matter and order soup.  A big thank you to Elaine Hatfield for hearing this one and passing it on!

I have a beef to pick with you

Possibly the best congruent conflation to date, this beauty was heard by the now famous Malaphor Hunter, John Costello.  From my count this is his 11th contribution to the site.  It is a mash up of “have a beef” and “have a bone to pick”, both idioms meaning to have a complaint about something.  There are many causes for the unintentional conflation.  The obvious one is that the two phrases have the same meaning.  Also, bone and beef are four letter words, and are somewhat related (cattle have bones, many cuts of beef have bones). We cut our beef with knives (picks).

This malaphor was also uttered (intentionally) by Stephen Colbert when he interviewed Sir Paul McCartney in 2009:

“I have a beef to pick with you, sir, in that you don’t eat beef,” Colbert said.

Thanks to John Costello for hearing this one!

You’re a tough nut to follow

I had to post this one right away, as it comes on the heels of Lara Hayhurst Compton’s “better safe than never”, which we both agree should be Planned Parenthood’s new slogan.  “A tough nut to follow” was spoken by Tim Hughes, a talented actor who is currently playing the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz at the Fulton Theater in Lancaster, PA.  This malaphor is a mash up of “tough act to follow” (outstanding performance) and “tough nut to crack” (difficult person or problem to deal with).  Tough is the operative word here, which my guess led to the malaphor.  Of course, Tim might have been referring to a difficult person who gave a great performance!  This one is also similar to “tough nut to swallow” see –  A big thank you to Lara Hayhurst Compton for hearing this one and passing it on!


Success is just cream on the cake

This malaphor, spoken by Sting in the documentary “Twenty Feet from Stardom” (an excellent film by the way), involves the phrases “icing on the cake” (something extra on a successful endeavor) and “cream of the crop” (finest or best).  I don’t believe “cream on the cake” is a British expression, but please send me your comments over the pond about this.

It is similar to a previously posted malaphor and the tag for this website, “cream of the cake.”   Here is the entire quote from the movie:

“Real musicians, there’s a spiritual component to
what they do…. Success is just cream on the cake.
There’s this idea that you can just go on American
Idol and become a star, but you may bypass the
spiritual… and if you bypass that, then your success
will be wafer-thin.” Sting

Thanks to Barry Eigen for hearing this one and sending it in!

That would just be gravy on the icing

The yuck factor is high on this one, but it’s a great malaphor.  It was said by someone who was discussing the possibility of getting more money than she anticipated.  This is a congruent conflation of “icing on the cake” and “the rest is just gravy”, both meaning an extra enhancement.  Perhaps this one describes a little too much enhancement.    Coincidentally, I received this malaphor from two people last week who don’t know each other so kudos to Deb Rose and Jonathan Ogle for sending this one in!


She’s a tough cookie to crack

This is a congruent conflation of “tough cookie” and “a hard (or tough) nut to crack”, both describing difficult people to deal with.   I suppose you can crack cookies, particularly if they are very stale.  My mom would put a piece of bread in the cookie jar to avoid cracked cookies.   A big thanks to Mary for blurting this one out, describing her very sassy cat.  Apparently the cat is still a tough cookie to crack.


one tough cookie

You’ll end up chasing red herrings

This is a mash up of “chasing your tail” (busy but not achieving anything) and ” a red herring” (something that misleads or detracts from what is important).  This was advice from a Judge to an attorney to have short deadlines to complete writing assignments, otherwise peripheral issues might be focused on that don’t really matter.   The combination of the phrases creates a nice new one, meaning wasting time on non essential issues.  So don’t sweat the small stuff, people.   Interestingly, the origin of the phrase “red herring” supposedly comes from the training of hounds to follow scents.  Red herrings would have a strong scent, and would be tied to the tails of hounds to make them concentrate on the actual scent that they were supposed to follow.   A big thank you to John Costello for sending this one in.

The answer I've always known and the one supported by a History ...

I’m walking on ice with you

Sounds like a song title, but it actually is a malaphor.  The speaker meant to say eggshells instead of ice, and wound up mixing the phrases “walking on eggshells” (try very hard not to upset someone) and “walking (or skating) on thin ice”” (risky situation).  The mix up is probably due to ice and eggshells both being easily breakable.  Also, if you don’t walk on eggshells with a person who is upset you might be skating on thin ice!  A big thank you to Paula Fow for sending this one in.


Walking on Thin Ice

Does he think I just fell from the turnip tree?

The turnip truck idiom seems to be a tough one to remember and say correctly, as it was the subject of another malaphor posted last December, “I wasn’t born off the turnip truck” (December 7, 2013).   This new one appears to be a mash up of “fallen off the turnip truck” (someone unsophisticated or naiive) and “the apple does not fall far from the tree”  (inherited personality traits).  Perhaps “to fall off the wagon”  (back to drinking after a period of abstinence)  might be in the mix as well.  A tip of the hat to John Costello who admits he blurted this one out.