The investigation has really hit the rails

This mix up, concerning the investigation of Russia’s involvement in the US presidential election, was heard on NPR.  It’s a mashup of “off the rails” (in a state of disorder or chaos) and “hit the fan” (become a scandal).  Not sure which idiom the speaker intended, as both could fit in context.  Perhaps the speaker had a mental image of the hobo catching a ride on a train and “hitting the rails”.  A tip of the toque to JoErin Mahokey for hearing this one and passing it on!

P.S.  Yvonne Stam, frequent contributor, added this additional explanation: “I would offer ‘hit the wall’ (reach a point of exhaustion) and ‘hit a wall’ (unable to make further progress) as well.”  Agreed!  Thanks Yvonne!


No President has a batting average of 100 percent

David Axelrod on CNN was responding to a comment that President Obama was not always correct and made the comment, “No president has a batting average of 100 percent.”  This is a congruent conflation of “batting a thousand” and “right 100 percent of the time”, both meaning to be right all the time.  The submitter of this malaphor, Bob Marchinetti, noted that batting averages are not expressed this way.  Bob would know, as he is an expert on baseball.  Check out his great book, “Pirate Gold: The 1960 Season” available on Amazon.  Here is the link:  A big thanks to Bob for hearing this one and sending it in!


Hand his hat on a platter

This is a mashup of “hand him his head on a platter” (angry with someone and want him punished) and “have your hat handed to you” (asked to leave or to be fired from your job).  The mix is caused by the words “hat” and “head”, and the word “hand” used in both idioms.  “Hat in hand” (with humility) might also have been in the speaker’s mind.  A lot of alliteration here.  A big thanks to Jon Polk from @ClichesGoneWild for tweeting this one and sending it to me as well!

Put your best face forward

The speaker was talking about the importance of translating marketing messages accurately into various languages, urging the viewers to “put your best face forward.”  This is a nice mashup of “put your best foot forward” (act or appear at your best, or to try and make a good impression) and “put a good face on” (To act as though a particular situation is not as undesirable or grim as it really is).  “Put a smile on someone’s face” (makes someone happy) might also be in play.  I believe this mix up is caused primarily by the word “put”, appearing in both idioms.  Also, the positive words “good” and “best” might also have contributed to the mental confusion.  Of course “foot” and “face” are both four letter words beginning with “f ” which might have taken the speaker down the malaphor path.  A big thanks to Marcia Johnston (author of “Word Up!” and “You Can Say That Again”) for hearing this one and passing it along!  Catch Marcia at if you enjoy writing!

Patience comes to those who wait

Huh?  Good to know. This not so wise malaphor is thanks to Michael Schwartz on WBNG 12 News in Binghamton NY.  It is a mashup of “good things come to those who wait” (if you are patient you will get what you want) and “patience is a virtue” (it is good to be patient).  A big thanks to Nancy for hearing this one and sending it in!

Trump is not going to throw Paul Ryan over the bus

Over/under is the culprit here.  This was heard by a Republican pundit speaking on CNN.  It is a nice mashup of “go over the cliff” (taking a drastic step) and “throw (someone) under the bus” (exploit someone’s trust for one’s own gain or purpose).  “Throw (someone) overboard” (get rid of excess baggage) might also be in the mix, as well as “over the edge” (excessive or out of control).  Given the statures of the persons named, it might be possible.  A big thanks to Ron McDonald for hearing this one and sending it in!

All I can do is not cry over sour milk

This great quote comes from boxer Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs in his recent fight with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.  At the end of the fight, Jacobs discussed his loss, and said “all I can do is not cry over sour milk and continue to move forward.”  Video clip is below.  This is a mash up of “don’t cry over spilled milk” (don’t be upset over something that can’t be fixed) and “sour grapes”(disparaging what one cannot obtain).  The speaker must have been thinking about that time he went to put milk on his cereal and the milk had turned sour, way beyond the expiration date.  That has happened to me a few times, and yes I did cry.

Speaking of the idiom “sour grapes”, it comes from the Greek writer Aesop’s famous fable about a fox that cannot reach some grapes on a high vine and announces that they are sour. In English the fable was first recorded in William Caxton’s 1484 translation, “The fox said these raisins be sour.”   A tip of the hat to Mike Ameel for hearing this one and passing it on, and to Susan Ameel for properly deconstructing the malaphor!