This one was uttered by Julie Tsirkin on MSNBC a few days ago. It is a nice conflation of “toe the line” (adhere to the rules of something) and “walk a fine line between (something)” (to navigate between two sides or positions). One uses one’s toes to walk so perhaps that is where the idioms mixed. By the way, the term “toe the line” comes from track, when the runners in a race line up with their toes placed on the starting line or mark. It began to be used figuratively in the early nineteenth century. Another tip of the hat to Frank King who heard this one and shared it.
This one was seen on a political podcast about people realizing that the media are not always honest. It is a conflation of “lift/pull back the veil” (to expose the truth) and “things are unraveling” (a situation is becoming chaotic). A big thanks to Verbatim for spotting this one and sending it in!
This one was heard during a conversation about how everyone slept the night before. This is a congruent conflation of “out like a light” and “slept like a rock”, both meaning to get a deep and restful sleep. “Slept like a log” is probably the most common idiom for restful sleep, but “slept like a rock” is also acceptable, as is “top” and “baby” as well. See also https://malaphors.com/2020/02/24/you-were-out-like-a-log/. A big thanks to Joanne Grieme for hearing this one and passing it on.
Chris Hayes from MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes utters this one at the 1:40 mark:
This is a mashup of “first off” (first of all, before anything else) and “right off the bat” (immediately). “Right off the bat” seems to be an idiom that is mixed quite often. See, for example, https://malaphors.com/2013/05/23/right-from-the-bat/ and https://malaphors.com/2012/10/27/right-out-of-the-bat/. The mind is going batty with these malaphors. A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in!
Meghan Dressel, wife of Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel, was talking about how her husband keeps a journal but discards it when the book is full. This is a nice congruent conflation of “turns the page” and ” closes the book”, both meaning to forget the past, make a transition and move on. Mike Kovacs get the gold for hearing this one and passing it on.
A commentator uttered this one during the New Zealand/Argentina Womens’ Field Hockey Olympics game. This is a congruent conflation of “laser focus” and “razor-sharp”, both meaning to be particularly clear and focused. Laser and razor rhyme and both indicate cutting, probably contributing to the mashup. A big thanks Zoe Danger for hearing his one and sending it in.
On CNN’s YouTube channel there’s a clip entitled ‘Ex-Fox Reporter Reveals Why Tucker Carlson Is Lying About Vaccines’. At the 1:50 mark guest Carl Cameron remarks, “This is literally the metaphor of the lemmings running to their own slaughter”. Here is the clip:
This is a great congruent conflation of “like lemmings to the sea/running off a cliff” and “‘like a lamb to the slaughter”’, both meaning people going innocently and helplessly, without realizing the danger. A tip of the hat to Torre Thompson for spotting this gem. As Torre says, “either way, you’re left with a bunch of dead lemmings.” ‘Nuff said.
This line appears near the end of the movie, “Psycho”. The psychiatrist is describing Norman’s dminished mental state and when his mother had an affair “it pushed him over the line”. This is a mashup of “push (one) over the edge” (cause one to commit someone to doing something they had been considering for a long time) and “cross/over the line” (to cross some threshold into unacceptable behavior). Great catch from Vicki Kovacs.
I received a ton of responses to this one (well, three but that’s a “ton” in malaphor world), telling me I missed the most obvious conflation: “behind the eight ball” and “(not) on (one’s) A-game” (not performing at the highest level). Exactly! As Bruce Ryan pointed out, “eight” and “a” is a good example of a homophone (two words that sound alike but have different meanings). This clearly caused the malaphor here. A big thanks to Bruce, Yvonne Stam, and John Costello for pointing this out.
After being sick, a son was telling his mom he had a lot of school work to make up, and that he was falling behind his eight-game. This is a rare trifecta malaphor, combining “falling behind” (not be as current with a task as one would want), “off (one’s) game” (unable to perform as well as usual) and “behind the eight ball” (in a challenging situation). The speaker was probably just wanting to say “falling behind” but the word “behind” may have prompted the “eight ball” idiom, in turn conjuring up the “game” of pool. Just a guess. A big thanks to Mary Marshall for hearing this one and passing it on!