That train has sailed

This is a congruent conflation of “that ship has sailed” and “that train has left the station”, both meaning the act has already been done.  It was said by Austin Powers in the movie Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, when he was speaking to a drunk Vanessa:

She was very groovy.
Your dad loved her very much.
If there was one other cat in this world that could have loved her and treated her as well as your dad then it was me.
But unfortunately for yours truly that train has sailed.
Vanessa?
Vanessa? Hello?

A big thanks to Sam Edelmann for hearing this one.  Oh behave!

 


It was like pulling blood out of a stone

This is a perfect congruent conflation.  It mixes “getting blood out of (or from) a stone” and “like pulling teeth”, both phrases meaning to do something with great difficulty.  The speaker was finding a particular essay difficult to write and remarked that writing it was like pulling blood out of a stone.  A big thanks to Red C. for sending this one in from the U.K.


They gave us an opportunity to learn by fire

The (un)Civil Professor of Malaphors, Martin Pietrucha, strikes again with this beauty overheard at a conference.  It is a perfect mash up of “learn by example” (educated by watching someone or something) and “baptism by fire” (a first experience of something, usually difficult).  “Under fire” (criticized) might also be in the mix, although I think the shared word here is “by”.


I’m not going to carry your wagon anymore

The first malaphor of 2015, a speaker replaced the word weight with wagon and unintentionally created this mix of “carry your own weight” (do your share) and “fix your wagon” (to punish or get even with someone).   Both phrases include words the begin with W, probably contributing to the confusion.  Could “hitch your wagon to a star” (aspiring to do great things) be in the mix as well?  Thanks to John Costello for sending this one in.


I’m going to pull his button

Push or pull?  It’s a choice we make everyday.   In this case, the speaker made the wrong choice but a great malaphor.  It is a mash up of “pushing his button” (to do the exact thing to make someone act the way you want) and “pulling his leg” (to fool or trick someone).  A big thanks to Jack de Golia for sending this one in!


I dropped the boat on that one

This is a terrific congruent conflation of “missed the boat” and “dropped the ball”, both meaning to have made an error or mistake.  Maybe the speaker was experiencing an earworm of that 1974 song “Rock the Boat” by the one hit wonder group Hues Corporation.   In any event, this double whammy can be used to describe the mother of all mistakes.  A big thanks to Marcia Riefer Johnston who sent this one in and is a new malaphor follower.  By the way, she has a great website, http://writing.rocks.  Check it out!


I was pounding the bushes

This is a wonderful congruent conflation of “beating the bushes” and “pounding the pavement”, both meaning to try very hard to achieve something.  As the speaker said, “you’d think the alliteration would help me keep them straight”.  I was actually pounding my bushes this weekend trying to dislodge all the leaves that had dropped on them.  A big thanks to Peter from the blog “Our Mechanical Brain” for producing this great malaphor and passing it on!  Check his blog out at Our Mechanical Brain


He is behind the gun

This subtle malaphor is a mash up of “behind the 8 ball” (in trouble) and “under the gun” (under pressure).  Both idioms are very similar in meaning.  The context was facing a deadline, so the speaker probably meant under the gun.  The words behind and under are similar in indicating location, which I think adds to the mix up.  Many thanks to Senior Malaphor Hunter Mike Kovacs (note the title in caps).


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


You run a hard ship

This subtle malaphor is a mash up of “you run a tight ship” (run an organization with discipline and order) and “you drive a hard bargain” (work hard to negotiate a price).  The speaker meant to say “you run a tight ship”.  The crossed wires might stem from the words “hard” and “tight”, or perhaps with “run” and “drive”, both action verbs.  The words “hard” and “ship” together might also be in play.  Thanks to Kevin Hatfield for passing this one along (and thanks to Ben Geier’s friend for saying it!).