These folks are trying to advance this niche of the pie

A subtle but proper malaphor, this is a mash up of “carve out a niche” (supplying a product for a particular segment of the market) and “a piece of the pie” (a share of something).  The mind might be visualizing carving a pie and hence the mix up.  Also both expressions concern a focus on a small part of a greater whole.  I think the next time I order dessert I will ask for a niche of pie, and see what reaction I get.  If the waiter quickly writes down the expression I will know the malaphor love is spreading.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and sharing it with malaphor central.

Description Pumpkin-Pie-Whole-Slice.jpg



It’s like the cherry on top of the cake

This one was heard on the Animal Planet tv show, Treehouse Masters.  Daryl, the foreman, was referring to a door on the treehouse that looked like a sarcophagus.  It is a congruent conflation of  “icing on the cake”  and “cherry on top”, both meaning an extra enhancement to something.  There are certainly cherries that appear on the top of some cakes, but not as common as sundaes.  In fact there is a Quebec idiom, “la cerise sur le sundae”, also with the same meaning but the cherry is on the sundae, not cake.  A shout out to my high school buddy, Marti Fenimore, for sending this one in!

That’s a hot potato issue

Last week Samantha Guthrie from the Today Show, in responding to a controversial topic, uttered this malaphor.  It is a mash up of “hot potato”  (something that is difficult to deal with) and “hot button issue” (an issue that people feel strongly about).  A malaphor salute to Mike Kovacs for spotting this one.

Let’s float a carrot

This was heard on a conference call in reference to a price proposal that would be presented to a customer.  It is a mash up of  “float an offer or idea” (present something informally to see if people are interested) and “dangle a carrot” (encourage someone with an incentive).  By the way, carrots do float (I think).   This beauty was heard by my chief roving malaphor reporter Mike Kovacs.  Of course I thank him profusely.

A bigger piece of the pot

I think this is a mash up of “bigger piece of the pie” (share of something) and “sweeten the pot” (make something more desirable).  Pie and pot are three letter words starting with p, increasing the confusion.  Also in poker the pot is the collection of money to be won, often being divided in card games so that one may get a “share” of the pot.   Thanks to Martin Pietrucha who heard this in a presentation.

Don’t get caught with the hot potato when it goes off

This crazy mess was heard on a conference call.  It is a mash up of “hot potato” and “playing with a live grenade”, both describing something dangerous or difficult to deal with.  The speaker was urging people to move problems along.  The speaker may have also been thinking of the German hand grenade called the potato masher.  The Model 24 Stielhandgranate was the standard hand grenade of the German Army from the end of World War I until the end of World War II. The very distinctive appearance led to its being called a “stick grenade”, or a “potato masher” in British Army slang.  Thank you to Yvonne Stam for hearing this one and passing it along, so to speak….

That really took the starch out of my sails

This is a conflation of several phrases.  The speaker was talking about his near death experience while cycling, so “it knocked the starch out of me” (to be beat up severely) may be in the mix, but I think the better phrase is “it took the starch out of me” (it made me tired or weak) as he was scared.  The other phrase is probably “it knocked the wind out of my sails” (heavy blow to the body) rather than “taking the wind out of my sails” (challenging someone’s boasting or arrogance).  A big shout out to Tom Justice for sending this one in!

Wake up and smell the roses

This common malaphor (many hits on the internet) is a mixture of “wake up and smell the coffee” (try to pay attention to what is going on), “come up smelling like a rose” (succeeding from a bad situation) and “stop and smell the roses” (enjoy what’s around you).  The latter was a title to a 1974 hit song by Mac Davis.  This malaphor is similar to “please stop and smell the daisies” published on August 30, 2013.  Many thanks to Sam Edelmann for unintentionally uttering this one and passing it along!

Mac Davis - Stop And Smell The Roses Records, CDs and LPs

Throwing red meat on the fire

This great mash up of “adding fuel to the fire” (making matters worse) and “throwing red meat” (appease or excite followers) was just heard on the local NPR station, WESA.   The speaker may have been thinking of old Boy Scout days of dangling meat on a campfire.   Certainly in most cases red meat needs to be cooked, so it makes sense that the two phrases were mixed up in the recesses of the brain.   The mind is like a big cookie jar, and sometimes when you pull a cookie out it breaks, and you are left with halves of two different cookies.  That is what we do with idioms and phrases, on occasion, and the result is a delectable malaphor.  A big thanks to Rob Blackburn for sending this one in!

Red meat

They really can hold their water

The Waterboy

The Waterboy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re not talking camels here, but a sports description.  The speaker has mixed “hold their own” (do as well as anyone else), the phrase the speaker meant to say, and “not hold water” (an argument or opinion that can be shown to be wrong).  Perhaps the speaker was also thinking of those folks that literally hold water for athletes, such as The Waterboy?   A big thanks to Justin Taylor, who certainly does not need to hold water for anyone, for sending this one in!