People don’t want to live on eggshells

This was heard in an administrative hearing.  It is a conflation of “walking on eggshells” (to act with great care so as not to upset someone) and I think “live in a glass house” (be susceptible to judgment or criticism).  Eggshells and glass are both very fragile, and I think the speaker was thinking of both.  “Living on the edge” (doing something daring or bold) might also be in the mix, with an eggshell (Humpty-Dumpty?) sitting on the edge of a wall.  Any other thoughts?  A big thanks to Sam Edelmann who heard this one and passed it on.


They deserve a good clap on the back

I heard this one today on our local public radio station, WESA.  The speaker was referring to the ACLU pursuing lawsuits against Pennsylvania laws supporting DOMA in response to the recent Supreme Court decision.  He meant to say “pat on the back” (praise), but seems to have confused “slap on the wrist” (mild punishment) and “clap your hands”.  Certainly clap as used as a noun has another meaning so my guess is he meant to say “pat”.

Not the brightest tool in the shed

This is a mash up of “not the sharpest tool in the shed” and “not the brightest bulb in the chandelier” (or “not the brightest”), both idioms describing someone lacking in intelligence.   Of course it had to be me who uttered this one to my wife who promptly pointed out the mix-up.  It reminded me once again that I really am not the brightest tool in the shed.

Not to beat a broken record, but….

This is a conflation of “beat a dead horse” and “sound like a broken record’, both meaning to do or say the same thing over and over again.  The best malaphors are the ones mixing similar meaning phrases, and this is a good example.  Kudos to Kevin Hatfield for uttering this unintentional masterpiece, and to Justin Taylor for recognizing it.

She always wants to be in the know-it-all

This is a conflation of “in the know” and “know-it-all”.  Apparently being in the know is not enough for this person.  A big shout out to Mitch Hoyson for spotting this gem!

That would be a tough nut to swallow

This clever congruent conflation is a blend of “tough nut to crack” and “bitter pill to swallow”, both referring to hard things to do.  Both also contain four words, and both involve actions.   And of course a tough nut is always hard to swallow,
right?  A big shout out to Susan E for sending me this one that she heard her husband utter last week.

He is turning around a new leaf

My daughter said this one yesterday and immediately texted me (I have malaphor hunters everywhere).  This is a conflation of  “turning around” and “turn over a new leaf”, both meaning to change.  Here is a great example using the malaphor:

Oprah Winfrey has dropped 25 pounds on her new diet!! After launching her OWN network and a subsequent battle against low ratings Oprah packed on some pounds. This year however the media mogul is turning around a new leaf and hired a new chef.”

He was telling my ears off

I heard this one at lunch yesterday from a former colleague, Cindy.   We looked at each other and said, “malaphor”!   It is a mash up of “talking my ears off” (excessive talking) and “telling me off” (scold someone).  Telling also sounds like yelling, which I think also was going on.

It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake

English: Wedding cake

English: Wedding cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a mash up of “it’s as easy as falling off a log”, “easy as pie”, and “it’s a piece of cake”, all meaning something very easy.   This is a great example of a congruent malaphor, when two or more root expressions have the same or similar meaning.  These kinds of malaphors are almost always understood by the listener because the idioms express the same thought.

He made a split minute decision

This is another word blend malaphor, mixing “split second decision” (immediately) and “at the last minute”  (deciding something at the last opportunity).  As I get older, I seem to be making more of these kinds of decisions.