It’s now time to reveal this year’s Malaphor of the Year. But before I unveil this masterpiece, here are the winners of past years:
2015 – I have a pulse to the ground (submitted by Paula Garrety)
2016 – Let’s give them a round of hand! (submitted by Martin Pietrucha)
2017 – Welcome to my shoes (submitted by Steve Kovacs)
2018 – Whatever turns your boat (submitted by John Kooser)
2019 – My old car shit the bucket (submitted by John Fischer)
2020 – You’re a one-horse pony (submitted by Bruce Ryan and Ron MacDonald)
2021 – The new President says he wants to turn over a new page (submitted by Frank King)
Before I reveal the winner, I want to give a shout out to the runners-up:
They won by the hair of their skinny teeth teeth (January 2022 – submitted by Ron MacDonald). A nationally televised mashup compliments of Al Michaels during an NFL playoff game.
I wouldn’t trust her with a 10 foot pole (March 2022 – submitted by Frank King). Sometimes it’s just a word or two.
Wegners (August 2022 – submitted by me). A great word blend malaphor uttered by Dr. Oz of two grocery chains, Wegman’s and Redner’s.
He’s a one-trick wonder (September 2022 – submitted by Jonathan Eliot). A nice mix of one-trick pony and one-hit wonder.
But the winner this year is backseat quarterback, submitted by Chuck Hatsis (January 2022). Chuck was telling his wife that he knows she doesn’t like him to be a “backseat quarterback”. This is a congruent conflation of “backseat driver” and “armchair quarterback”, both referring to someone who is eager to give advice without responsibility. A chair has a seat so this might have contributed to the mental hiccup. This also might be a nice description of all those QBs who sit on the sidelines waiting for the starter to leave the game.
Happy New Year everyone!
This one comes from The Daily from the New York Times (Thursday December 15) about the Russian military mobilization earlier this year. Sabrina Tavernise said “let’s set the table here”. I believe based on the context she meant to say “set the scene” (establish the setting or describe something so that others can understand it) and mixed it with “on the table” (up for discussion). A big thanks to Yvonne Stam for hearing this one and sending it in!
Los Angeles Times legal correspondent Harry Litman tweeted: “Wow. DOJ wants to hold Trump in contempt for violation of subpoena. A natural outgrowth of the trickling out of documents and failure to comply with subpoena from last May. But quite a strike across the bow.” This is a mashup of “shot across the bow” (a verbal or physical attack meant to serve as a warning) and perhaps “strike a blow” (to do something that contributes to another’s defeat). Bow and blow are similar looking words. Also a “strike across the face” (invitation to a duel) could be in play.
A shout out to Yvonne Stam for spotting this one and sending it in.
This was said last Sunday by Alaina Beverly on the MSNBC show, Ayman. She was talking about the January 6 Committee criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. This is a body part mashup of “put (one’s) thumb on the scale” (to manipulate a situation to gain advantage) and “(one’s) finger on the pulse” (a keen awareness of current trends). A tip of the hat to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and sharing it!
This one was heard on the news, relating to the murders in Idaho. A resident being interviewed said, “everyone is on eggshells”. This is a congruent conflation of “everyone is walking on eggshells” and “everyone is on edge”, both referring to everyone acting with great care in a nervous situation. This one is similar to others I have posted in the past, including “walking on eggs and needles”, and “walking on pins and needles”. A big thanks to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this one and Mike Kovacs for sending it in.
During halftime on a Monday Night football game, a public service announcement was made regarding NFL community service. A voiceover said “to see the world from someone else’s shoes”. This is a congruent conflation of “walk in someone else’s shoes” and “see the world through someone else’s eyes”, both meaning to understand another’s experience or perspective. Not sure one would get much of a perspective seeing from another’s shoes. A big thanks to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in!
This one was found in an article by Joseph Goodman on AL.com, discussing the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) new football coach hire:
“Former UAB coach Bill Clark retired suddenly before the 2022 season. It left the program he built from scratch in a bizarre and vulnerable place before the move to the American Athletic Conference. UAB needed badly to flex the needle with its next football coach, and this intriguing gambit does exactly that.”
This is a mashup of “move the needle” (to cause a noticeable change in something” and “flex (one’s) muscle(s)” (to demonstrate one’s influence or power). Flexing a needle could be dangerous. A shout out to David Stephens for spotting this one and sending it in.
A couple was watching the Tulsa King and noted a character released from prison griping about the necessary paperwork to acquire a bank account. One commented, “yeah, it’s frustrating jumping through red tape all the time”. This is a nice mix of “jump through hoops” (to complete or face many challenges to achieve something) and “red tape” (bureaucratic rules that are overly strict or tedious). Both expressions refer to a series of challenges or events, contributing to the confusion. A big thanks to Patti Palladino for uttering this nice conflation and Skip Kennedy for sending it in!
A couple was discussing the recent cryptocurrency scams and how people lost large sums of money. One said, “how foolish do you have to be to not have a safety blanket in those situations?” This is a nice congruent conflation of “safety net” and “security blanket”, both referring to something that makes you feel safer and dispels anxiety.
A tip of the hat to Adam Jacob for unintentionally saying this one, recognizing it as a malaphor, and sending it in!
This one was heard on the HGTV show “Househunters”. The husband said to his wife, “Don’t put all your ducks in a basket.” This is an eggselent conflation of “get your ducks in a row” (get well-organized) and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” (don’t risk everything on one venture). Idioms containing the words eggs, ducks, or baskets seem to get commonly scrambled. Type any one of these words in the search and you will find many postings on the subjects.
A big thanks to Fandango, that malaphor wise quacker, for hearing this one and sending it in!