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Trump is hunkering in

This was uttered by Elise Jordan on MSNBC, as she was describing Trump alone in the White House.  It is a congruent conflation of “digging in” and “hunkering down”, both meaning to get started in working on something or alternatively to seek refuge in a particular place.  A big thanks to Frank King for catching this one.

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It stuck out like a sore eye

Describing a poor choice of paint color on a porch, the speaker uttered this one.  It is a nice mashup of “stuck out like a sore thumb” (very conspicuous) and “sight for sore eyes” (overjoyed to see someone after a long absence).  Perhaps the speaker was thinking about a thumb in the eye after viewing the paint job.  In any event, a big thanks to Mal for sharing this one he remembered from years ago.


Malaphor of the Year (2018): Whatever Turns Your Boat

Malaphors were everywhere in 2018, particularly in the political world.  MSNBC was where the action was, contributing several malaphors each month (a big thanks to Frank King and Mike Kovacs who heard quite a few). However, this year’s winner does not come from that world, but from a conversation between two friends.

Coming up with this year’s winner was difficult, given the many excellent conflations.  The image conjured up by I need to clear my chest (February) was a troubling one, as the malaphor was heard on “My 600 lb. Life”.  Similarly, He’s a real blowhole (May) was quite descriptive.  And then there were the Trumpworld malaphors.  Favorites of this year were Cohen is in hot soup (April), Trump shoots off the cuff (April), Will it pay fruit? (June), and Stormy McDaniels (August), a delightful word blend.   I particularly liked He can drink anybody under the bus (August).

But after careful deliberation, the best malaphor this year has to go to the overheard conversation at a WalMart at midnight.  Instead of making an insult about an outrageous outfit, the friend merely shrugs her shoulders and utters the great line, Whatever turns your boat (December).  A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this masterpiece.

Fourth place – Will it pay fruit?

Third place – Michael Cohen is in hot soup

Second place – He’s a real blowhole

First place – Whatever turns your boat

Thanks to all who submitted malaphors this year and for following this blog.  Happy New Year to all and happy malaphor hunting in 2019!

The Malaphor King


The government pulled the wool over him

On the Ali Velshi MSNBC show, Matt Apuzzo was talking about General Flynn and that some believe the government tricked him.  He then uttered this nice malaphor, which is a congruent conflation of “pull the wool over (one’s) eyes” and “pull one over on him”, both meaning to trick or deceive.  The operative word here is “pull” which appears in each idiom.  A big thanks to Hawk-eared Frank King for hearing this gem.


Sitting behind the driver’s seat

This one has to be read in context.  On the December 10, 2018 “On Point” NPR podcast, a person was discussing self-driving cars.  “I felt safer sitting in the back seat of that driver-less vehicle than I did sitting behind the driver’s seat of my own car’.  https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510053/on-point

This is a mashup of “in the driver’s seat” and “behind the wheel”, both meaning to take charge. The speaker wasn’t thinking of either idiom, but was certainly confusing his words.  If you are in the back seat of one car, how is that different than being behind the driver’s seat of the other car?  A big thanks to Alan “Moose” Richardson for hearing this one.


Whatever turns your boat

Overheard at a WalMart at midnight: two women were talking about another woman’s unusual outfit and one of them uttered this classic malaphor.  It is a congruent conflation of “whatever floats your boat” and “whatever turns you on”, both meaning whatever makes you happy.  The phrases both begin with “whatever”, and with boats capsizing, you can see where the confusion arises.  A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one while doing some midnight shopping.

If you enjoyed this one, and are thinking about how to fill that Christmas stocking, why not get the malaphor book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”?  It’s available on Amazon for a cheap 7.99.  Makes a great addition to any bathroom.


Beat the iron while it’s hot

This beauty comes from a video tutorial on Getting Google Reviews.  It is a nice mashup of “strike while the iron is hot”  (to make most of an opportunity or favorable conditions while one has the chance to do so) and “beat (someone) to the punch” (to do something before someone else does).  Both idioms involve doing something early.  A big thanks to Frank King for seeing this one and passing it on.  Shout out to The Ranking Academy for giving us this blooper.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCopSeO4OPWd5M9zzPhA6qpg