This one was uttered by James Hamblin on the CNN show Reliable Sources. It’s a mashup of “behind the curve” (something or someone not quite able to keep up), and “behind the eight ball” (in a difficult situation or at a disadvantage). Either way I think Mr. Hamblin is right! “Behind” is found in both idioms, creating the mental hiccup. “On the ball” (alert or aware) might also be in the mix, but I doubt that the speaker was thinking that way, given the context. A big thanks to John Polk from @ClichesGoneWild for posting this one! @jameshamblin @ReliableSources
This was found in Baltimore’s newspaper, the Baltimore Sun. A player at the Univ. of Maryland said of his teammate, “For someone so young, he’s really ahead of the eight ball.” This is a nice mashup of “ahead of the curve” (at the forefront of leading something) and “behind the eight ball” (in trouble or in a weak or losing position). “Behind” and “ahead” are certainly part of the problem here, but also the speaker may have been thinking of a curve ball in baseball. And of course, in eight ball, you certainly want to be ahead of it when making your shots. A big thanks to Larry Mason who spotted this beauty.
This subtle malaphor is a mash up of “behind the 8 ball” (in trouble) and “under the gun” (under pressure). Both idioms are very similar in meaning. The context was facing a deadline, so the speaker probably meant under the gun. The words behind and under are similar in indicating location, which I think adds to the mix up. Many thanks to Senior Malaphor Hunter Mike Kovacs (note the title in caps).