Do not pull back on your guard

Wise words spoken by Dr. Anthony Fauci, discussing the new COVID variant, omicron, and the need to be fully vaccinated. He said this on NBC’s Weekend Today. This is a nice mashup of “pull back” (to back away, retreat) and “be on (one’s) guard” (to be especially vigilant). Check out the last line of this article for the malaphor:

A big thanks to Donna Doblick for spotting this one and sending it in!

That was a pretty good trick that she pulled out of her sleeve

This is another malaphor brought to you by the show Seven Little Johnstons. The mom was talking this time.  It is a nice mash up of “trick up her sleeve” (secret advantage) and “pull a rabbit out of her hat” (to do something surprising or seemingly impossible).  Both idioms concern the element of surprise, and both involve tricks or magic. Also in the mix is the R rated “pulled it out of her ass”, also meaning to something surprising or seemingly impossible. This one is similar to a previous post: “she needs to pull a trick out of her hat”, spoken at the Winter Olympics. See

A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for spotting this one and sending it in. And here’s the clip:

It’s a dumpster f**k

This was heard on an Instagram video post. It is a nice congruent conflation of “dumpster fire” and “cluster f**k”, both referring to a chaotic situation. Both are fairly new idioms in the English language, making this malaphor timely. A tip of the hat to Anthony Kovacs for spotting this one and sending it in!

The gorilla in the room

Yet another great malaphor uttered on Brian Williams’ podcast, “11th Hour”. This time the speaker is former US Attorney Joyce Vance (heard on 11/11 at the 16:50 ).

This is a mashup of “the 800 pound gorilla” (dominant force that cannot be ignored) and “the elephant in the room” (a truth that cannot be ignored). The elephant and the gorilla get mixed up often apparently. See, for example, “it’s the 800 pound elephant in the room” or “the 800 pound gorilla in the room”

A big thank you to Frank King for hearing this beauty and sending it in.

And now to kick the stage

This was heard at a conference. The conference chair, after making a few opening remarks, said, “and now to kick the stage.”  This is a mash-up of “kick things off” (to begin something) and “set the stage” (to prepare something for some activity). It is almost a congruent conflation as both idioms involve starting something.

I wonder if he was a rocket scientist? Now if the guys from Monty Python said this, they would be literally kicking the stage… A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and sending it in.

A tougher bar to climb

This is yet another malaphor heard on Brian Williams’ podcast, 11th Hour. This time it was uttered by Dr. Vin Gupta. Hear it at 37:36:

This is a mashup of “a tougher row to hoe” ( a very difficult situation) and “set a high bar” (establish a desired but difficult to achieve standard). Kudos to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.

Give you a penny, you take a mile

A husband finished doing a few chores around the house and his wife asked if he could do a couple more. The husband replied, “Sheez, give you a penny, you take a mile”. This is a conflation of “give an inch and they’ll take a mile” (make a small concession and they will take advantage of you), and “in for a penny, in for a pound” (once involved, one must not stop at half measures). This excellent malaphor was sent in by Mary Marshall.

By the hair of his teeth

On election night (11/21), MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, the election guru, was talking about a candidate’s narrow victory.  He said that the guy was ahead at that point, “by the hair of his teeth.”  This is a nice congruent conflation of “by a hair” and “by the skin of (one’s) teeth”, both meaning just barely or very narrowly. This one has variations that I have posted previously, e.g. and

Hats off to Martin Pietrucha for sending this one and to his wife Melinda for hearing it!

Has a pretty good thumb on mainstream America

This one was heard on the Brian Williams podcast, “11th Hour”.

This appears to be a digital glitch. It is a mashup of “finger on the pulse” (keen awareness of current trends) and I think “thumb on the scale” (a method of deception)? A big thumbs up to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.

I’ve painted myself into a f**king pickle

This one was heard on the Amazon Prime show, “Goliath”, uttered by Dennis Quaid in episode 7 of Season 3. It’s a congruent conflation of “in a pickle” and “paint (oneself) in a corner”, both meaning to be in an unpleasant situation. A big thanks to Karl Robins for hearing this one and sending it in.