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


That’s a whole different ball of fish

This is a mix of two phrases with the same meaning – “different ball of wax” and “different kettle of fish” (completely different or not at all similar).   Fish ball soup might also be in the unconscious here (see picture).   This type of malaphor involving phrases with the same or similar meanings is also referred to as a congruent conflation and is usually the most commonly uttered malaphor (and usually the best).  Loyal follower David Spain unintentionally blurted this one out and referred it here.  Thanks David!

Fish Ball Soup ~ Overseas Pinoy Cooking

That’ll be a kettle of worms

Kettle of Fish

Kettle of Fish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This gem is a mixture of “a fine kettle of fish” and “a can of worms”, both meaning to describe a difficult situation or problem.  My guess is that the speaker was also confusing worms with fish, as worms are bait for fish.  Similar malaphors at this site are “I’ve opened up a can of beans” (7/31/13 compliments of Denita) and “that’s a real ball of worms” (12/18/12, submitted by Paula Fow).  Thanks to Barry Eigen who sent this one in, and added that if the speaker had only said “a fine kettle of worms”, the malaphor would have been perfect.   Perfection is elusive.

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)