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Civility is disappearing before our hands

This was heard on MSNBC, Jansing and Co.  show.  There was a discussion on civility in America and this malaphor was uttered.  It is a mashup of “disappear before out eyes” (suddenly no longer visible) and I think “out of (someone’s) hands” (no longer in someone’s control).  “Slip through (someone’s) fingers” might be in play, as it also refers to something missed or escaped.  Fingers and hands are close in proximity.  A big thanks to “Eagle-eared” Frank King!

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The ball’s in your hand now

Seen on Facebook.  This is a congruent conflation of “the ball’s in your court” and “in your hands”, both meaning under one’s control or in possession.  Certainly you catch a ball with your hands so the mind sees “ball” and attaches that word to “hand”. in all likelihood.  “Out of our hands” may also be in the mix, although the meaning is the complete opposite to what the writer was trying to convey.  Incongruent conflation perhaps?  A big thanks to Katie Norwood for spotting this one.


They are not putting all their marbles in one basket

This one is from the ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption” (PTI).  There was a discussion about the Lakers and LeBron James’ free agency. Michael Wilbon reported that Magic Johnson [the Lakers’ director of basketball operations] stated that they are not putting all their marbles in one basket. Even Tony Kornheiser then pointed out to Michael that it should have been eggs, not marbles.  This is a nice conflation of “for all the marbles” (all the winnings, spoils, or rewards) and “put all your eggs in one basket” (to invest all of one’s energy in a single venture).  Marbles resemble eggs and vice versa so this is probably the reason for the mix up.  A big thanks to Gerry Abbott for hearing this one and sending it in.

If you liked this malaphor, check out THE book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205.   Buying it is like putting all your malaphors in one basket.


Tarred with the same feather

This is a super mashup of “tarred and feathered” (to excoriate or criticize someone in a humiliating and public manner) and  “tarred (painted) with the same brush”  (unfairly judge or categorize as being the same as someone, usually in a negative manner).  Both idioms refer to a negative action against another.  They also both have the word “tar” in them, which is probably the cause of the mental hiccup.  Also, brushes can be composed of hairs, which may have led the mind back to the word “feather”.  A big thanks to Michael Boyette for hearing this one and sending it to my Facebook page, Malaphors.


They are scrambling tooth and nail

On the June 19, 2018 Rachel Maddow show, reporter Jonathan Blitzer uttered this malaphor when he was talking about parents held by the Border Patrol trying to keep track of their kids.  It is a mashup of “fighting tooth and nail” (fighting as hard as possible in order to achieve something) and “scrambling like crazy” (push and struggle to get something).  Both idioms have similar meanings and the active verbs “scramble” and “fight” were probably mixed up in the brain.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one!


He was drunk out of his ass

I love this one.  This was overheard outside a bar.  It is a mashup of “drunk off his ass” (very intoxicated) and “out of his mind” (crazy).  Crazy drunk?  Upside down?  A big thanks to Anthony Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in!


I need to catch my bearings

A person was getting overwhelmed trying to do too many things at once.  He then blurted out that “I need to stop and catch my bearings.”  This is a mashup of “get my bearings” (figure out one’s position relative to one’s surroundings) and “catch my breath” (relax, take a break).  “Bearings” and “breath” start with a “b”, causing the malaphor.  Also, both phrases indicate someone pausing before proceeding.  A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this one and passing it on.

If you enjoyed deconstructing this mixup you will love my book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon.  Catch your bearings and then head to your computer to order it for a cheap 6.99.