That’ll be a kettle of worms

Kettle of Fish

Kettle of Fish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This gem is a mixture of “a fine kettle of fish” and “a can of worms”, both meaning to describe a difficult situation or problem.  My guess is that the speaker was also confusing worms with fish, as worms are bait for fish.  Similar malaphors at this site are “I’ve opened up a can of beans” (7/31/13 compliments of Denita) and “that’s a real ball of worms” (12/18/12, submitted by Paula Fow).  Thanks to Barry Eigen who sent this one in, and added that if the speaker had only said “a fine kettle of worms”, the malaphor would have been perfect.   Perfection is elusive.

That’s a real ball of worms


worms (Photo credit: Wahj)

This is a mash-up of “can of worms” (a situation which causes difficulty when starting to deal with it) and “the whole ball of wax” (everything).  The mix up may have been caused by the words worms and wax, both starting with w, and that both idioms have the preposition “of” in them.  In addition, the context was an administrative hearing where the speaker was describing his home life, indicating that everything was a mess, hence the conflation of the two phrases.

It’s not his cup of wax

This malaphor was heard on the T-ball field from a parent whose son kept an eye on outfield ants and flowers rather than the ball.  It is an amusing blend of “not my cup of tea” (do not like it very much) and “the whole ball of wax” (the entire thing or affair).  A big thanks to Cam O. who heard this one and sent it to me.