Every one of us has a ticking time bomb on our head

Speaking on NPR’s Marketplace, Christina Stembel, CEO of Farmgirl Flowers, said this one when she was referring to the difficulties being experienced by small businessess during the pandemic and associated business shutdowns.  It is a mashup of “price on our head” (an amount of money offered as a reward for one’s capture) and “sitting on a ticking time bomb” (a situation that will eventually become dangerous if not addressed).  Maybe the speaker was thinking about the Erie pizza bomber?  Not sure, but a big thanks to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one!


You’re making a really significant risk

This was from a headline in the Washington Post: “Fauci warns states rushing to reopen: ‘You’re making a really significant risk.”  This is a mashup of “making a mistake” (to do something incorrectly) and “taking a risk” (doing something with a high probability of a negative outcome).  “Taking” and “making” are mixed up here.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/01/fauci-open-states-coronavirus/

A big thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this subtle one.

It’s nerve curdling

Rachel Maddow said this one on her show on April 30, referring to the Covid-19 outbreak in Nebraska.  It’s a mashup of “blood-curdling” (causing terror or horror) and “nerve-racking” (something stressful or anxiety-inducing).   I suppose nerves could curdle when alarmed or stressed out.   A big thanks to Frank King who heard this one and passed it on. @maddow
If you liked this Rachel malaphor, you will be happy to hear that I am about to publish my second malaphor book that has a whole section devoted to Maddow Malaphors.  The book is a compilation of malaphors from politicians and pundits.  It’s the top of the cake!  Be on the lookout on this website for the release date!

Salt Lake City is not through the weeds yet

This is the headline in a recent Salt Lake City Tribune newspaper article, discussing the city’s need to continue practicing social distancing and mask wearing because of the Covid-19 virus.  Here is the headline:


I think it is a mashup of “out of the woods” (out of danger) and “in the weeds” (consumed with details).  “Weeds” and woods” sound similar, contributing to the mixup.  Or perhaps Utah is thinking of legislating marijuana?  A big thanks to Kathy Shand for spotting this beauty.  @sltrib @slcmayor

That tops the cake

The contributor’s mom said this one.  It is a congruent conflation of “takes the cake”  and “tops them all”, both meaning to win or be the most outstanding in some respect.  My guess is that the speaker was also thinking of a cake topper.  A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one from his Mom and sending it in.

Is Papi pulling your goat?

Yesterday over breakfast the contributor of this malaphor made some inane comment to his wife. Their 5 yr old granddaughter, who was visiting, then blurted out, “Is Papi pulling your goat?”  This is a mashup of “pulling (one’s) leg” (kidding or teasing someone) and “get (one’s) goat” (to irritate or annoy someone).  Certainly one can pull a goat, and vice versa (see pic).  And the words “pull” and “get” are similar in meaning.  Perhaps the little one had some pulled pork the night before.  Adn if you haven’t had it before, “pulled goat” is pretty good as well.

Interestingly, the origin of the phrase “get your goat” derives from a tradition in horse racing. Thought to have a calming effect on high-strung thoroughbreds, a goat was placed in the horse’s stall on the night before the race.   A big thanks to Dan Chavez who heard this one and sent it in.

They help put all the ducks in place

My wife and I heard this one on the PBS Newshour.  A person was talking about how her parents are helping her during the pandemic.  This is a congruent conflation of “put your ducks in a row” and “fall in place”, both meaning to be organized or things fitting well.    I supposed one needs to put the ducks in their place when arranging them in a row.