A pastor was teaching on Psalm 76, noting that when Jesus was transfigured the disciples fell on their feet. This is a conflation of “fall on (one’s) knees” (to kneel down as a show of respect) and “be swept off (one’s) feet” (to become very enamored with someone). Both expressions involve admiration or awe of another. Also the body parts “knees” and “feet” seem to be the source of the confusion here. Of course, “fall on (one’s) feet” is an expression indicating one who is lucky or successful, and I suppose that is true in the disciples’ case. However, I believe it is a malaphor given the context. A big thanks to Steve Grieme who heard this one and passed it on!
This nice congruent conflation of “red line” and “line in the sand”, both meaning the furthest limit of what will be tolerated, was uttered by Kasie Hunt on MSNBC last week (Craig Melvin hosting). “Line” appears in both idioms, which is probably the root of the confusion. Ms. Hunt is probably too young to remember the song, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, so it probably does not enter the mix. A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.
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This one was heard on a podcast discussing the volatile nature of today’s political environment. It is a conflation of “throw a (monkey) wrench in(to) the works” (to disrupt or cause problems) and “like a bull in a china shop” (to be aggressive or clumsy in a situation that requires care and delicacy). As the submitter says, both phrases cause chaos. Certainly throwing a wrench in a china shop will cause damage much like that of a bull. A tip of the hat to Verbatim for hearing this one and sharing it.
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Was Dr. Fauci thinking of the America song, “Horse with No Name?” I don’t know, but this was uttered by Dr. Fauci at a Congressional hearing held this week. It is a perfectly formed congruent conflation of “no skin in the game” and “no horse in this race”, both expressions meaning when one is not invested in the outcome. A race is a game so this seems to be the reason for the mixup. Also, horseshoes is a game so that might have been on the speaker’s mind. But I would like to think he had an America ear worm that day and could not get the song out of his head. A big, big thanks to Steve Grieme, Yvonne Stam, and Rozsa Harris for all hearing this one and sending it in within hours of each other. A malaphor tidal wave.
This one comes courtesy of the classic movie, “Best in Show”. The Jane Lynch character is talking about how her poodle will easily win and that the Judges should just “skip to the chase” and give her the trophy. This is a mashup of “skip it” (ignore the matter) and “cut to the chase” (get to the point; get on with it). As the Christopher Guest mockumentaries were largely ad-libbed, my guess is that this malaphor was not intentionally written. A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one and sent it in.
Chuck Todd on MSNBC was describing Democratic strategist worries about certain voter registration numbers. This is a congruent conflation of “knock your socks off” and “set (one) back on (one’s) heels” , both meaning to put one in a state of surprise. A big thanks to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in!
This is a nice bookend to another malaphor recently posted, “the genie is out of the bag” – https://malaphors.com/2020/06/17/the-genie-is-out-of-the-bag/. It is also similar to “we can’t put the genie back in the box”, another malaphor posted on this site. https://malaphors.com/2016/04/11/we-cant-put-the-genie-back-in-the-box/. “The genie is out of the box” was uttered on CNN recently and also appears in an Axios article:
“We think the model has long-term viability,” says Barbieri. “The next California wildfire or earthquake or hurricane… now that the genie is out of the box, it’s never going back.”
It is a mash up of “the genie is out of the bottle” (something has been done that cannot be changed) and “opening Pandora’s box” (doing something that causes a lot of unexpected problems). Both involve mythical creatures that cause trouble. Also, opening Pandora’s box has a similar meaning to letting the genie out of the bottle. Both are impossible to close once opened. I also think the mix up is caused by the containers themselves – getting things from boxes and bottles. It’s possible a jack-in-the-box was also on the speaker/writer’s mind. A tip of the hat to Ginny Justice who heard this one and passed it on.
This mashup was spotted on Facebook. Here is the post:
This is a congruent conflation of “through the eyes of (someone)” and “walk (stand) in (someone’s) shoes”, both meaning to consider another’s perspective, experience, or motivation. “See things from another angle” might also be in the mix. Then again, a pair of nice, shiny patent leather shoes could literally help you do this. A big thanks to Grant Shipley for spotting this and Yvonne Stam for sending it in.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was discussing the coronavirus relief package legislation and noting the Republicans’ non-response. He then uttered this nice mashup of “against the clock” (a shortage of time being the main problem) and “fall off a cliff” (suddently become less successful). “Up against the wall” (in great difficulty) might also be in the mix, but given the context of time running out, “against the clock” is probably what the speaker had in mind. Also, “clock” and “cliff” sound similar. I think “cliffhanger” (situation where the outcome is suspenseful or uncertain) must have been on Schumer’s mind as well. Here is the context:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, noting that he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans to come to the table three weeks ago but neverreceived a response.“Nothing, now we’re up against the cliff.”
Kudos to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and immediately reporting it to Malaphor Central.
Ali Velshi, subbing for Rachel Maddow on her show, uttered this one. It is a mashup of “set back on (one’s) heels” (surprise or shock) and “on your back foot” ( in a position of disadvantage, retreat). Another tip of the hat to Frank King for hearing this one.
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