If you hear or see a malaphor, please let me know by dropping a comment on the website.  Please include who said it and/or where you heard/saw it.

537 Comments on “Contact”

  1. Greg says:

    A colleague uttered this on a conference call

    “You can’t beat that with a dead horse”

  2. Mike Ameel says:

    Hi Dave. Mike Ameel here. First off, congrats on the book. I’m checking out the site to see if I have a new conribution; I think I may.
    “Green around the edges.”
    My wife and I occasionally watch a NatGeo show called Life Below Zero, which is about life in the tundra. One of the cast members (Sue Aikens) commented about getting help from one of her nephews and said that he was green around the edges. Obviously a rookie or not much experience.

  3. baoverlie says:

    Augusta Chronicle Rants & Raves section, Anonymous, Tuesday March 29, 2016: “Big raves to Rick McKee’s cartoon on Friday. It hit the mark on the button.”

  4. Bob Marchinetti says:

    Got your book today. Looks very amusing. Here’s one you might like but probably can’t use because of language. A friend of mine confused being “up shit creek” (which is usually followed by “without a paddle”) with being on someone’s “shit list.” He said he was “up shit’s list.” To which we added “without a pencil.”

  5. Gerry Abbott says:

    I think I got one for your next book. The Baltimore Ravens held a pre-draft press conference today during which GM Ozzie Newsome said that “nobody bats a hundred in this business.” I think he was unintentionally merging the concepts of nobody gets 100 percent right and nobody bats 1.000, a baseball reference. You can hear it at @ 15:15 at the following link:,%20Eric%20DeCosta,%20John%20Harbaugh,%20Joe%20Hortiz%20meet%20with%20media%20at%201%20Winning%20Drive%20(Part%203)

    Good luck with the book.

    — Gerry

  6. Susan Ban says:

    Hi- I got a peek at your book yesterday when Dr. Rosato brought it to a meeting. I told her that my husband frequently utters malaphors, including these two: “Don’t kick a gift horse in the can” and “You can take that to the cleaners!”.

  7. Diane Bufter says:

    On the first episode of “The Real Housewives of Dallas” on Bravo (April 11, 2016) one of the house wives was lamenting that she was not spending as much time with another housewife as she used to. She spoke this little gem: We were like peas and carrots.” I am thinking that she meant “We were like two peas in a pod” to describe their old relationship.

  8. Jim Clees says:

    “It’s a difficult road to hoe.” Journalist Nina Easton on Fox News Special Report, April 18, 2016, commenting on the challenges facing tax reform.

  9. Ashley Yuki says:

    My dad accidentally said “Grabbing a bull bull by the tail” and it automatically brought me here again

  10. Diane Bufter says:

    Dave: I am now obsessed with malaphors and their ilk. Today’s entry is from the first episode of “Tour Group” on Bravo. One of the reality stars describes another cast member as someone who “Jumps off the the handle too soon.” “Flys off the handle” I get. Not sure about Jumps.

    Up to you to parse the sentence and decide if a malaphors. As I write this comment I am thinking it might not fit. Your choice to publish or not.

  11. davemalaphor says:

    Could be “jumps off the deep end”, but based on the context I think the mash up includes “jumps down someone’s throat”, as it is similar to flying off the handle. Anyone out there have any other suggestions?

  12. Ian says:

    Saw this one on a camera news site that I follow: “Three’s a charm” – as far as I know, this is a mix up of “Three’s a crowd” and “Third time is a charm”.


  13. davemalaphor says:

    I love this one. Will post soon.

  14. Isaac Joel says:

    I was just watching “Royal Pains” (S8.E6 Home Sick). When a woman is able to find good news coming out of bad, she says to Hank, the main character, “This curve ball has a silver lining.”

  15. Peter Hopkins says:

    Found this one while reading coverage of the Led Zepplin “Stairway to Heaven” copyright infringement trial:

    “successful ones stand on the shoulders of giants before them”

    Sort of a mashup of “we see further by standing on the shoulders of giants” and the phrase “of/by those who came before us”


  16. Ed Brady says:

    Hey Dave. Ed Brady here. I am on vacation and don’t have access to your email address. I heard a good one today…”She set the gauntlet very high”. Sounds like a mixture of “running the gauntlet” and “setting the bar high”. I heard it watching American Ninja Warriors on television today.

    I hope all is well. Great job by the Pens this year!

  17. Tiffany G. says:

    Hi Dave – I’m so happy to have been pointed to your site by a friend. I love hearing malaphors and trying to figure out how they come to be. Here are a couple I’ve heard over the years from my colleagues:

    Talking about an internal candidate who applied for a promotion: “We can interview him, but if he doesn’t pass the mustard, then we aren’t promoting him.”

    Either a mashup of “cut the mustard” and “pass muster,” or he simply wanted someone who would pass him mustard.

    I got this one today: “If I put all of these on a map, there would be so many that the user could make heads or toes out of it.”

    And this one is not a mashup of idioms but still intrigued me: My colleague came into my office and said he had a “quandrum.” It took me a second to realize he had combined quandary and conundrum. Brilliant – a new word was born!

    • davemalaphor says:

      These are terrific Tiffany! I will post them soon. The last one is actually a word blend malaphor, which are rare. Check my other word blends out on the website or in the book. Dave

  18. Paul Nance says:

    Amy Walter on PBS Newshour 7/25/16: “right out of the bat” right out of the box + right off the bat

  19. Barry Eigen says:

    My fiancee uttered this one on Sunday: “off the tip of your head or something.” Clearly a mashup of on tip of your tongue (or on tip of the tongue) and off the top of your head.

  20. Gabe says:

    A coworker once described something to me that was hard to find as “like finding a diamond in a haystack”.

  21. Joel says:

    I was recently given your book as a present from a co-worker who often enjoys my highly unintentional malaphors. The book is great!

    My most famous malaphor came when my co-worker and I were serving as greeters for our church’s Christmas Eve service. A mutual friend of ours was approaching from a distance and I casually but jokingly yelled out “Look what the cat drag out of the bag!” My co-worker has since kept tabs on my malaphors. The list is getting long…

    Thanks again for the entertaining book!

  22. Gerry Abbott says:

    Here’s one fresh from Rio. Michael Phelps on his win last night: ‘There wasn’t a shot in hell I was losing’ . I think he’s mixing up ‘shot in the dark’ and ‘snowballs chance in hell’. Hope I’m the first to send this to you.

  23. davemalaphor says:

    Beauty! Will post right away. thanks!!

  24. Peter says:

    Here’s one by John Gruber, said in an episode of his tech podcast The Talk Show: “to boil it down to a nut”, a mixup of “what it boils down to” and “in a nutshell”

    You can hear it here, at around 2hr50sec:

  25. Tom says:

    In the context of a plan that was derailed, a coworker said to me that “a wrench had been thrown into the bucket.” Hmmm

  26. Diane Bufter says:

    Just saw a commercial on television that shows a man being shown the ingredients in a dog food. He then realizes that it is the dog food he buys and contains a lot of unhealthy ingredients. He thought it was a good dogfood until he saw the ingredients. Then he indicates that he will buy the dogfood being touted. He say “My perception has changed 180 degrees on a dime.” I think this qualifies as a malaphor mixing turning 180 degrees and turning on a dime. I give him extra points for not making the common mistake of saying “360 degrees which gets you right back where you started.

  27. Josh Berry says:

    A friend’s coworker left instructions to my friend for a work task, and the task wasn’t easy, so another coworker commented, “it’s not a cake in the walk.”

  28. Joel Friend says:

    My colleague and I were chatting about a couple big ideas and I exclaimed “what if we’re sitting on a golden goose!”

  29. Winter says:

    How about “an eye in the sky makes the whole world blind”.

  30. Christopher F Schiel says:

    Overheard in the office today: “I will drive down to Woodburn on a dime’s notice!”

  31. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Dave! I hear malaphors at work all the time. Just this week a coworker expressed his thoughts on the difficulty of a task… He said, “Well isn’t that a hard cookie to crack!” I assume it was a combination of “hard nut to crack” and “tough cookie.” We got a kick out of it.

  32. Rachel says:

    Heard a good one today. A speaker at a company conference was praising our year’s work, and she exclaimed, “We really knocked it over the top this year!”

    Perhaps “knock it out of the park” and “over the top”? To take her literally, I suppose we knocked it too far out of the park…

  33. davemalaphor says:

    Excellent one! Will post

  34. Robert J. Smith says:

    Question: Does a combination of three metaphors constitute a malaphor? Example: “That’s just milk spilled under the dam.”

    • davemalaphor says:

      Yes! Where did you hear this and in what context?

      • Robert J. Smith says:

        In the 1970’s I worked at a time-sharing computer company – Rapidata. The head of their documentation department was a man named Joe Salerno. I didn’t know him personally except to say hello to, but one of his employees (they all seemed to like and respect him) once told me what fun it was working for him. This employee, Joe Rich, spoke about Joe Salerno’s sense of humor and how he would say things like “That’s no shirt off my nose,” and “Women are like streetcars – the ocean is full of them.”

        I don’t remember if the malaphor, “That’s just milk spilled under the dam” was directly from Joe Salerno or was one made up by us in imitation of him, but he certainly deserves the credit for being the impetus behind it. (And Joe Rich for appreciating the humor.)

        It wasn’t until Joe Salerno passed away in 1995 that I found out that he had a PhD in English from the University of Michigan and that he probably had had to supervise Rapidata’s software documentation for a living in order to feed his family, since his specialty was poetry, which, in America, doesn’t pay well.

        In retrospect, I share the respect that his employees had for Dr. Salerno.

  35. Jared says:

    Hello! I heard of a malaphor I thought was pretty amusing today when discussing attraction towards a lady that works at a homeless shelter (we’re both residents). He said, “You shouldn’t bite the hand of the waitress that serves you”, I found the mental visual hilarious! As I’m sure you noticed it’s a crosse between “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, and the all to great advice “Don’t date your waitress”. I hope it amused you as much as it made me laugh, have a great day!

  36. Peter says:

    Great malaphor from an interview on Chicago’s public radio station, WBEZ: “I hear both ends of the coin”

    An interesting mashup of the phrase “two sides of the same coin” and “hear both sides of the story”

    You can hear it here at around 5min 25sec:

  37. David Kinzel says:

    “You found the flaw in the ointment.”
    This was uttered in relief when the source of a tenacious problem had been discovered. It is circa 1995 near Boston, MA. I think it combines the phrases “flaw in the crystal” and “fly in the ointment.” I’ve been savoring it for a long time and when I found your book, I knew you needed this one. Oh, by the way, carrots do not float. But celery and green peppers do. 8->

    • davemalaphor says:

      never heard of “flaw in the crystal”. Is that an American or British idiom? Seems like flaw in the ointment is a malaprop instead of a malaphor (flaw for fly).

  38. Barry Eigen says:

    I just read one in a Washington Post Article: “He’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet.” Here’s the link: Here’s the full quote:

    But Godat was surprised by the utter chaos that came with the president’s first month. He said it often felt like Trump and his staff were impulsively firing off executive orders instead of really thinking things through.

    “I didn’t think he would come in blazing like he has,” said Godat, 39, who has three kids and works at the same aluminum rolling plant where his father worked. “It seems almost like a dictatorship at times. He’s got a lot of controversial stuff going on and rather than thinking it through, I’m afraid that he’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet.”

  39. Johann Chancey says:

    I accidentally said that my dog was healthy as a clam earlier while describing his lifestyle.

    Healthy as a horse/happy as a clam.

  40. Joe dolan says:

    Just found your website and it has made my day. I thought this may be of interest. A colleague kept repeating this to me the other day. “They go through it finer than a fine toothpaste”

  41. Joe dolan says:

    Sorry for two comments but only just remembered this from a few years ago.
    “Thats right up my cup of tea”
    A right up my street / not your cup of tea hybrid

  42. Jeremy says:

    The best piece of “advice” I ever overheard was given in a check-out line conversation. “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t flog dead horses.” I laughed so for so long, (and so hard), that I made it into a shirt.

    That T sparked a conversation with a passerby who had to stop to point out that “Your shirt is wrong. The idiom is supposed to be “you can flog a dead horse but you can’t make it drink.””

    Boom! Another T-shirt.

  43. Emerson says:

    In Louisville’s newspaper, the Courier-Journal, there was a story about a Tennessee basketball player and her father. ” So father and daughter have missed each other on this trip, as they do often, ‘like two trains crossing in the night,’ Diamond said. ”

    Maybe a three way mix of ‘two ships passing in the night’ ‘crossing paths’ and ‘strangers on a train’?

  44. Barry Eigen says:

    Here’s a really subtle one uttered by Paul Ryan yesterday: “He laid it on the lines.” Numerous news reports. Here’s just one with full context: “He added: ‘The president was really clear, he laid it on the lines for everybody: We made a promise, now is the time to keep that promise, and we need to keep our promise and the people will reward us.'”

  45. Ezz says:

    One of my colleagues is forever creating these – completely unintentionally!

    He once said ‘it’s a different ball of fish’ (which a Google search for brought me to your website).

    His most recent one was ‘it’s better than a kick in the eye with a stick’.

    Obviously this is based on a combo of ‘better than a kick up the arse/ass’ and ‘better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick’.

    If your readers like them, I’m happy to post more!

  46. Paul Nance says:

    President Trump today, in criticizing President Obama’s failure to respond to Assad’s use of chemical weapons: “I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis,” Mr. Trump said. ‘When he didn’t cross that line, after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways. It was a blank threat.’” Seen in New York Times.

    A blend of “empty threat” and “blank check”?

  47. Albie Winter says:

    In a recent youtube video I watched ( Phil – on the right – says a malaphor at 14:05, “I would not trust that with a barge pole”, which I guess is a blending of “I wouldn’t touch that with a barge pole” and “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him” or other metaphors to that effect. Dan, the other man, calls him out on his malaphor, but I thought it was interesting and I’d share it anyway!

  48. Josh Berry says:

    Got another one! “He wasn’t the brightest bulb in the basket.”

    Uttered by Matt, Katie’s old roommate’s (Nicole’s) boyfriend.

  49. Kevin Ross says:

    I love the Sopranos. Part of the charm was listening to the Malapropisms. One I have is not related to the Sopranos, but comes from a retired co-worker. He had some good ones over the years. In reference to when he thought we would see another colleague, he said: “she will probably saute down about 10 o’clock.” kind of a mash-up of sashay and saunter.

    • davemalaphor says:


      I agree with you about the Sopranos. In fact, I devote a whole section of my book to malaphors heard on that t.v. show (in the Television Chapter). You can get the book on Amazon if you have not already done so. The title is “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors” and it’s a cheap $6.99. Here is the link:

  50. slynndobler says:

    He’s not the brightest cookie in the jar!
    I say this frequently, it started as an accident then I just couldn’t stop using it.
    I also frequently say “I’ll burn that bridge when I get there.”

    • davemalaphor says:

      The “dimwit” phrase is often confused. See my recent post on this “idiom overload”. As for burning the bridge, I posted that one a few years ago. It is the title of a Jimmy Buffett song. Who knew? Cheers! Dave

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