Things kind of petered off

This unfortunately comes from a sad passage in an article about Covid-19 deaths, but it’s a malaphor nonetheless. Here’s the sentence: “And then things kind of petered off a little bit in those areas, and now we’re kind of seeing it getting closer and wondering when we’re gonna have to deal with this. But again, we’re preparing for it as best as we can in the hospitals that I’m working for.” This is a congruent conflation of “petered out” and “tapered off”, both meaning to diminish gradually and then stop.   Here’s the link to the article:

A special thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one, and for his wise counsel about not posting a descriptive picture of this malaphor.


The ball’s on them

Uttered by an engineer at a conference call.  This is a nice congruent conflation of ” the ball’s in your court” and “the onus is on them”, both meaning under one’s control or responsibility.  I suppose if the ball is not only in your court but actually ON you then you might have a heightened responsibility.  Malaphors are like that sometime; they improve our established idioms.  This one is similar to a previous post, “The ball’s in your hand now”.

A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in.

The ball’s on you to discover more malaphors by getting my book, “He Smokes LIke a Fish and Other Malaphors”, available on Amazon.  Just click on the link here:  Also stay tuned for my upcoming malaphor book dedicated to those mashups uttered by politicians and pundits over the past four years.  It is top of the notch!

I’m still getting the ropes

A dentist said this one as he explained all the new things he has to do because of the virus.  This is a congruent conflation of “I’m still getting the hang of it” and “I’m still learning the ropes”, both meaning to learn how to do a particular job or task.  So, as we begin to reopen the country, make sure and get a few ropes.  A big thanks to Barry Eigen for hearing this one and sending it in.

It serves the trick

The speaker was assessing the suitability of some household item for another purpose.  This is a congruent conflation of “does the trick” and “serves the (a) purpose”, both meaning to achieve a desired result.  Might also be a bridge game malaphor.  A big thanks to Chief Malaphor Hunter Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one.

I got tired of the gyms getting thrown under the bridge

Gym owner Monty Webb was frustrated by the lockdown and decided to open.  He uttered this nice malaphor, a mashup of “throw (someone) under the bus” (to exploit someone’s trust for one’s own purpose) and “water under the bridge” (something happened in the past and it is not worth worrying about it now).   Here is the quote in context:

Gym co-owner Monty Webb of Plum said he’s had enough.

He and his wife, Linda, own and operate Webb’s World of Fitness in Penn Hills.

And he’s open for business.

“I opened because it’s essential. Your heath is essential,” Webb said. “I got tired of the gyms getting thrown under the bridge. You’re thanking all these essential businesses and essential workers. I’ve been doing this for 32 years. It’s essential.”

A big thanks to Mike Ameel for spotting this one and sending it in.

Rolling with the flow

The speaker was remarking that one of the strengths in her workplace was that her fellow workers are always rolling with the flow.  This is a congruent conflation of “rolling with the punches” and “going with the flow”, both expressions meaning to be able to deal with a series of difficult situations.   This malaphor is also the title of a nice Charlie Rich song, “Rollin’ with the Flow”.

A big thanks to Elly Pietrucha for sending this one in!

We’ll be walking a tightrope around coronavirus for some time

Paul Jackson, global head of asset allocation research at Invesco, was discussing investing amid the coronavirus crisis.  “We’ll be walking a tightrope around coronavirus for some time.”  This is a mashup of “walking a tightrope” (being extremely careful and precise) and “tiptoeing around” (avoiding confrontation).  Here is the link:

A tip of the toque to Barry Eigen for spotting this one in the news wilds.  And yes, Barry, I found a circular tightrope (sorta).

Calm your jets

This was uttered by a driver who was being tailgated.  It is a congruent conflation of “calm down” and “cool your jets”, both meaning to tell someone to relax or be less intense.  In researching this one, I found out that “calm your tits” is another expression meaning to relax or be less intense, so perhaps the speaker was thinking of this one as well.  Anyone know if that is an American or British expression?  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha who said this one and realized he had malaphored.

You’re picking hairs

A father and daughter got into an argument about their calico cat, and whether her markings were splotches or patches.  The daughter said her Dad was being trivial, and then uttered this malaphor.  It is a congruent conflation of “splitting hairs” and “nitpicking” or “picking (something) apart”, all meaning to make small or overfine distinctions.  Hope no one has trichotillomania. A shout out to a familiar name on this website, John Kooser (aka “the Dad”) for sending this one in.

Trump’s going to eat him apart

Two people were overheard talking about upcoming the 2020 presidential debates between Trump and Joe Biden. One person said of Trump: “Trump’s going to eat him apart….”  This is a nice congruent conflation of “eat him alive” and “tear him apart”, both meaning to overwhelm and defeat or dominate another.  “Eat his lunch” might also be in the mix, as it has the same meaning as the conflated idioms.  My guess is that Biden might be a little tough to chew.  A big thank you to Verbatim for sending this one in!