Tom Merritt of APR’s Marketplace on NPR Morning Edition, Daily Tech News uttered this one. One of the criteria for a malaphor is that it is unintentionally said; a mental mishap so to speak. However, I have made an exception with this one as it is very clever. It appears Mr. Merritt was saying this intentionally, as he was talking about Facebook policing its advertising, and whether the latest transparency move was significant. They don’t want to talk about it; they’re being forced to talk about it. We don’t have a clear way of knowing whether our privacy is being protected..
It is a mashup of “canary in a coal mine” (early warning of possible adverse conditions or danger), “the 800 pound gorilla” (a person or group so powerful it does not need to heed to the rules) and “the elephant in the room” (a problem that everyone is aware but choose to ignore and not mention). Elephants, gorillas, and canaries all in one phrase! A huge thanks to Sally Adler for hearing this one and passing it on!
This is a great image and a terrific malaphor. It was uttered unintentionally by someone describing an awkward date. She tried to engage in small talk, and related the following to a friend:
“I said, ‘I love the mountains so much, especially at night,’ trying to lighten the elephant in the room.”
This is a mashup of “the elephant in the room” (obvious problem no one wants to discuss) and “lighten the mood” (trying to cheer everyone up). “The elephant in the room” seems to be a common expression mix-up. For example, I have posted:
“It’s the 800 pound elephant in the room” https://malaphors.com/2015/03/30/its-the-800-pound-elephant-in-the-room/
“I think that’s the pink elephant in the room” https://malaphors.com/2013/08/07/i-think-thats-the-pink-elephant-in-the-room/
“The white elephant in the room” https://malaphors.com/2012/09/06/the-white-elephant-in-the-room/
In fact, I have a separate section devoted to the “elephant malaphor” in my book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205
A tip of the hat to Sydney Bergeson for hearing this one and sending it in!
Elephants and gorillas don’t mix, yet this malaphor is an exception. This was heard on the NPR show “to the Best of Our Knowledge”. Charles Monroe Cain was interviewing former navy pilot and drone developer Missy Cummings from Duke. He asked her about “the 800 pound elephant in the room.” This is a conflation of “the 800 pound gorilla (dominant force that cannot be ignored) and “the elephant in the room” (a truth that cannot be ignored). Bottom line is that you can’t ignore a gorilla OR an elephant. This elephant mix up thing seems pretty common – see prior postings on pink elephants and white elephants. A trumpeting thank you to eagle eared malaphor hunter Yvonne Stam for sending this one in!
This masterpiece is a mash up of “elephant in the room” (obvious problem no one wants to discuss) and “seeing pink elephants” (recovering from an alcoholic bout). It is particularly interesting as it was uttered by Alex Rodriguez, baseball player for the New York Yankees:
Rodriguez, who admitted to taking steroids from 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers, said he supported baseball’s efforts to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs. But he seemed to question the Yankees’ alleged attempts to keep him from returning to the team.
“I think that’s the pink elephant in the room,” Rodriguez said. “I think we all agree that we want to get rid of PEDs. That’s a must. I think all the players feel that way. But when all the stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract, I think that’s concerning for me. It’s concerning for present [players] and it should be concerning for future players as well. There is a process. I’m excited about the way I feel tonight and I’m going to keep fighting.”
This beauty was caught by John Costello. Kudos to John for a timely (and Freudian slip?) malaphor. See also entries “the white elephant in the room” (Sept 6, 2012), “the 800 pound gorilla in the room” (Nov 15, 2012), and “memory like a hawk” (Nov 17, 2012). Elephant malaphors apparently come in all shapes and colors.
This one comes from the Chicago Tribune, on a story about malaphors. Here is an excerpt:
“One particular idiom blend pops up with such regularity that it appears poised to replace the phrase from which it sprung.
In a recent New York Times story about the economic state of Youngstown, Ohio, a community development director called the city’s large swath of vacant properties the “800-pound gorilla in the room.”
An 800-pound gorilla usually refers to someone or something so large and powerful that it lives by its own set of rules. Its origins can be found in a riddle:
Question: “Where does an 800-pound gorilla sleep?”
Answer: “Anywhere it wants to.”
It’s also used to describe a dominant player. Urban Dictionary defines it thusly: “An overbearing entity in a specific industry or sphere of activity. A seemingly unbeatable presence always to be reckoned with; whose experience, influence and skill threatens to defeat competitors with little effort.”
Sometimes the gorilla surpasses a mere 800 pounds. (“Whose the 900-pound gorilla now?” asked a headline on a recent tech story about Facebook overtaking Google as the biggest web site in 2010. Sometimes the gorilla sheds a few hundred pounds. ( Colorado’s governor-elect was quoted last month calling the state’s billion-dollar shortfall “the 600-pound gorilla.”)
And sometimes the gorilla is an elephant.
“The elephant in the room” refers to an obvious truth that no one is addressing. A health educator in California’s Central Valley was quoted earlier this week saying, “If there’s an elephant in the room with the obesity epidemic, it’s soda consumption.”
Sometimes the elephant in the room is pink, further underscoring how difficult it would be to overlook the metaphorical pachyderm.
So when idiom meets idiom and the proverbial room is filled with a proverbial gorilla, are we ignoring an obvious overbearing, unbeatable force? Or simply replacing the elephant with another giant animal for variety sake?
Regardless, the saying’s meaning remains more or less intact. And a little blending keeps our age-old idioms from getting stale.”
This little ditty was spoken at a meeting last week all the way from Afghanistan. It is a mash up of “elephant in the room” (obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed) and “white elephant” (a burdensome possession whose costs outweigh its value). The crackerjack research team at Malaphors HQ (my “ol’ pal”) tells me there are few, if any, elephants in Afghanistan, much less white elephants. Tip of the toque to Jim Washabaugh, loyal malaphor follower, for sending me this gem.