Normally I would pass this off as just using the wrong word, in this case body part, in an expression – hands for heads. However, in context it is indeed a malaphor. On the Clark Howard podcast from 4/13/2018, Clark was discussing the insurance industry’s slow response to entering the short-term rental (e.g., AirBnB) market. He had just said the insurance companies were sitting on their hands, then shortly thereafter said, “Most insurers are just burying their hands in the sand.” He quickly corrected himself, but unfortunately did not shout “Malaphor!” at that moment as he apparently is not a follower of this site. What about it, Clark? @clarkhoward This is a mashup of “”sitting on (one’s) hands” (taking no action) and “burying (one’s) head in the sand” (to avoid a situation pretending it does not exist). Both expressions involve inaction, contributing to the mixup. Also the words “sand” and “hand” rhyme which also could have a culprit. A big thanks to Debbie Rose who heard this one.
This beauty was found in an editorial entitled “Modern Politics are Blind”, found in civicscience.com – https://civicscience.com/modern-politics-are-blind/. This is a mash up of “dig your heels in” (refuse to alter a course of action) and “stick one’s head in the sand” (refuse to think about an unpleasant event), or “bury one’s head in the sand” (to ignore or hide from obvious signs of danger). “Draw a line in the sand” (create an artificial boundary and imply that crossing it will cause trouble) might also be in the mix. All the phrases concern being obstinate or refusing something, whether it is advice or in the context of the editorial, the facts. This malaphor is similar to a great one uttered by Steve Scalise (R-LA) who said, “he has stuck his feet in the sand”, referring to Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats (see https://malaphors.com/2013/10/03/he-has-stuck-his-feet-in-the-sand/).
Don’t dig your heels in the sand and not buy the malaphor book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors.” Live a little and get this gem on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205. It’s a real page burner.
This timely malaphor is a mash up of several phrases, idioms, and ideas. Certainly “stick one’s head in the sand” (refuse to think about an unpleasant event) and “bury one’s head in the sand” (to ignore or hide from obvious signs of danger) is in the mix, along with “draw a line in the sand” (create an artificial boundary and imply that crossing it will cause trouble). In addition, “dig your heels in” (refuse to alter a course of action) is in play, considering context. Sticking your feet in cement also comes to mind. This mix-up was spoken by Steve Scalise (R-LA) at a press conference on Capitol Hill. Mr. Scalise was referring to Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats, indicating that they would not negotiate. You can find this beauty at about 1:30 in the video below:
Thanks to Susan Kestner for sending this current and timely malaphor in!