This simple but great malaphor was uttered on the Kojo Nnamdi NPR radio program during a panel discussion. The speaker could not be identified. It is a mashup of “get his act together” (improve) and “get his ass in gear” (hurry up). “Act” and “ass” sound alike so this almost is like an eggcorn. What is an eggcorn, you might ask? An eggcorn is an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker’s dialect (sometimes called oronyms). The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original but plausible in the same context, such as “old-timers’ disease” for “Alzheimer’s disease” (Wikipedia).
I have heard this malaphor often, and am surprised I have never posted this one. A big thanks to David Barnes for hearing this one and sending it in.
This mixup was found in the following newspaper:
It is a congruent conflation of “to rub salt in the wound’ and “to add insult to injury”, both meaning to deliberately make someone’s misfortune or unhappiness worse. “Wound” and “injury” are similar meaning words, probably creating the mental mashup. Now if the writer had written “add-in salt to injury” that would be an eggcorn. An eggcorn is a similar sounding phrase spelled differently. Because of the similar sounding words, this is a very common malaphor, with over 2,300,000 hits, according to Google. A big thanks to Eve for spotting this one.