A daughter was telling her father about a recent test. This is a mashup of “know it like the back of my hand” (extremely familiar with something) and “off the top of my head” (from memory without careful consideration). Either this is a malaphor or maybe she actually had the materials written on her hand? A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this one.
2020 has started off on the right foot, malaphor wise. On New Year’s Day, Christiane Amanpour said this beauty on CNN’s “New Day”. Let’s go to the transcript:
It is a congruent conflation of “put your finger on it” and hit the nail on the head” (and “nailed it”), all meaning to describe a situation or problem exactly. The speaker might have been thinking of fingernails when she uttered this one. A big thanks to Ruth Dilts for nailing this one. @camanpour @NewDay
The countdown is over. It’s now time to reveal this year’s Malaphor of the Year. But before I unveil this masterpiece, here are the winners of past years:
2015 – I have a pulse to the ground (Trumpaphor when he was on the campaign trail)
2016 – Let’s give them a round of hand! (submitted by Martin Pietrucha)
2017 – Welcome to my shoes (submitted by Steve Kovacs)
2018 – Whatever turns your boat (submitted by John Kooser)
This year’s winner combines an old and a new phrase, and just has a nice ring to it. It was submitted last January by John Fischer. Happy New Year!
My old car shit the bucket
Maggie Acker uttered this beauty when talking about her car that stopped running. It is a congruent conflation of “kicked the bucket” and “shit the bed”, both idioms referring to something or someone that died or failed. “Shit the bed” is a relatively new idiom (I found it in the Wiktionary – https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shit_the_bed ). It usually refers to something that breaks and can’t be repaired, like a cell phone. Interestingly, in the U.K, it means to express surprise. The mental mix up probably also was caused by the similar sounding words “kick” and “shit”. A big, big thanks to John Fischer who heard this one and passed it on.
Number 2 is another Trumpaphor, posted back in January. Let’s go to the transcript:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the news incorrectly reported. Because I said, well, if we go back and everything is peachy- dory, and you say, “We’ll talk over 30 days,” at the end of 30 days, are you going to give us great border security, which includes a wall or a steel barrier.
This is a mash up of the expressions peachy keen and hunky-dory, both meaning fine or satisfactory. This seems to be a fairly common malaphor, based on internet hits. Now hunky keen is a different matter….Several of you caught this one, including Steve Grieme and Mike Kovacs, both expert malaphor hunters.
This one submitted just a few weeks ago struck me as a perfectly formed malaphor and so it comes in at number 3 this year.
He’s on a thin leash
This beauty was uttered by someone who was asked if he thought the Cowboys’ football coach, Jason Garrett, would be fired soon. It is a mashup of “on thin ice” (close to being in trouble) and “on a tight leash” (strict control over someone). The words “thin” and “tight” are close in sound and meaning. A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one and passed it on!
Number 4 is a nice congruent conflation uttered by Trump in August. Several faithful malaphor followers caught this one.
It’s not number one on the burner
The Malaphorer in Chief, Donald Trump, uttered this beauty when he was discussing his idea to purchase Greenland. “It’s not number one on the burner, I can tell you that.” This is a congruent conflation of “not number one on the list” and “not on the front burner”, both meaning not a high priority. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/kudlow-says-white-house-is-looking-at-trying-to-buy-greenland/2019/08/18/ab367b6c-c1bb-11e9-b5e4-54aa56d5b7ce_story.html.
This one was heard by several loyal malaphor followers, including Barry Eigen, Donna Calvert, and Frank King. This Trump malaphor is not the first. Check my book out, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors” (available on Amazon) for more mashups from him. There are also many more on this blog. Search “Trump”.