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The cart’s out of the barn. You can’t put it back in the bottle.

This multi-faceted malaphor was uttered by Sam Stein, Politics Editor of The Daily Beast.  He was discussing Trump’s inadvertent confessions.  This is a three way malaphor, mashing up “the cat’s out of the bag” (the secret has been made known), “closing the barn door after the horse has bolted” (trying to prevent a problem after the damage has been done),  and “can’t put the genie back in the bottle” (can’t go back to the state you were in before an important change happened).  Cats and carts sound alike, contributing to the confusion.  All three idioms describe a situation where something has changed and it cannot be reversed.  So, all three are appropriate in context, but perhaps not jumbled together.  A big thanks to Ron MacDonald for hearing this gem.

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It sent shivers up my skin

The submitter was out with some friends for dinner when this was suddenly uttered.  An instant malaphor alert went off.  This is a nice, alliterative congruent conflation (best kind of malaphor, imho) of “send shivers up (one’s) spine” and “makes (one’s) skin crawl”, both meaning to cause to feel frightened or unnerved.  Spine and skin are mixed here, and the visual of shivers crawling.  Certainly your skin shivers when you’re cold, so the mixup is quite expected.  A big thank you to Steve Grieme for hearing this one and passing it on!


I want to get the elephant out of the room

This was uttered in a general session meeting at a conference.  The speaker was trying to raise an issue that was well-known to all but was avoided in discussion.  I believe it is a mashup of “the elephant in the room” (a serious problem that everyone is aware of but choose not to mention) and “out in the open” (expose something for public knowledge).  The beauty of this malaphor is that it contains idioms that are opposites: one exposing something that is hidden and the other keeping something hidden that should be exposed.  “Out on the table” might also be in the mix.
As any loyal malaphors.com follower knows, idioms involving elephants are frequently mixed.  Type in “elephant” and see the many posts.  There is also a chapter in my book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors” (Amazon) devoted to elephants.  A big thanks to John Costello for hearing this one and sharing it.  Also a big thanks to Cheryl Rosato for her “elephant in the room” drawing and for illustrating the malaphor book!

lumps in the ointment

Rachel Maddow said this one when she was describing Don McGahn’s cooperation with the Special Counsel in an effort to avoid John Dean’s fate. Basically she was saying that McGahn was not the apparent hero he seems because of his apparently selfless cooperation, and that there were a few “lumps in the ointment.”  This is a mashup of “lumps in the gravy” (problems or stumbling blocks) and “fly in the ointment” (flaw that detracts from something positive) l  up of Lumps in the gravy, flies in the ointment.  “Take (one’s) lumps” (to accept the punishment one deserves) might also be in the mix (or should I say gravy?).  And then again, maybe Rachel was thinking of Frank Zappa…..

A big thanks to “my ol’ pal” Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this one and sending it in!


We did everything from soup to finish

Overheard at a business meeting.  This is a congruent conflation of “from soup to nuts” and “from start to finish”, both meaning to provide for the full range, with the beginning to the end in mind.  Reminds me of an earlier one I posted, “let’s get down to the soup and nuts of it.” https://malaphors.com/2015/09/08/get-down-to-the-soup-and-nuts-of-it/

A big thanks to Dave Julian for hearing this one and Marianne Julian for passing it on!


The last thing we need to do is monkey this up

Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate for governor of Florida, uttered this one on Fox when asked about his Democrat opponent, Andrew Gillum:  “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”  https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/29/politics/ron-desantis-andrew-gillum-attack/index.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/29/ron-desantis-andrew-gillum-monkey-florida-elections-801685

Putting aside the controversy swirling around this utterance, I believe it is a malaphor, as the phrase “monkey this up” does not exist.  Instead, it is a mash up of “monkey around” (waste time or procrastinate) and “muck (it) up” (to ruin or mess something up).  Muck and monkey have similar sounds, perhaps contributing to this mix up.  A partial shout out to Mike Kovacs who deconstructed this with me today. @RepDeSantis @AndrewGillum

 


He can drink anybody under the bus

This was overheard at the Hillstone Restaurant, Winter Park FL. A very drunk lady was talking to her friend.  It is a mashup of “drink someone under the table” (to drink more alcohol than someone else) and “throw (someone) under the bus” (to exploit someone’s trust for one’s own purpose).  My guess is that the speaker was thinking of a bus boy, someone who cleans tables at a restaurant.  This is the connection between bus and table.  Also, “under” is in both expressions, no doubt contributing to the mental mix up.  A big thanks to Tom Justice for hearing this one and sending it in!

If you liked this beauty you’ll love my book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other malaphors”, available on Amazon. On sale right now for $6.99!!  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205