This one was heard on a podcast discussing the volatile nature of today’s political environment. It is a conflation of “throw a (monkey) wrench in(to) the works” (to disrupt or cause problems) and “like a bull in a china shop” (to be aggressive or clumsy in a situation that requires care and delicacy). As the submitter says, both phrases cause chaos. Certainly throwing a wrench in a china shop will cause damage much like that of a bull. A tip of the hat to Verbatim for hearing this one and sharing it.
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Nicole Wallace on Morning Joe uttered this nice malaphor. It is a mashup of “bull in a china shop” (one who is aggressive and clumsy in a situation that requires care and delicacy) and “the elephant in the room” (an obvious truth or fact that is being intentionally ignored or left unaddressed). Not sure what would cause more damage in a china shop – a bull or an elephant? By the way, elephants are a common source of malaphors: just type the word “elephant” in the search engine on my website and you will find a treasure trove of elephant malaphors. a big thanks to Donna Calvert for hearing this one and passing it on.
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I heard this one from a neighbor. She was talking about her husband’s love of gadgets, and that he recently received a new tool that he was crazy about. This is an incongruent conflation of “like a kid in a candy shop” (so excited about something that they behave in a child-like way) and “like a bull in a china shop” (clumsily destructive). The mixup derives from the similar sounding words “china” and “candy”, the word “shop” used in both phrases, and that the two phrases are equal in words and structure (“like a blank in a blank shop”).
This malaphor was written by Michael Gerson in a Washington Post column. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-best-fortnight-in-a-decade-for-conservatives-uh-oh/2017/02/06/93e2f1aa-ec9a-11e6-9973-c5efb7ccfb0d_story.html?utm_term=.fe5334ede362
It is a nice mash up of “on the horns of a dilemma” (unable to decide between two things because either could bring bad results) and “bull in a china shop” (clumsily destructive). Mr. Gerson was discussing how Republicans are in a difficult situation, where if they criticize Trump, they could receive massive retaliation. While malaphors are usually unintentional slip ups, this one clearly was not. A big thanks to Sam Edelmann for seeing this one and passing it on!