We’re seeing them close the wagons

This one was spoken by ESPN’s Michele Steele on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.  She was discussing the horse racing drug scandal involving the Kentucky Derby winner, Justify.  Here’s the transcript: https://www.npr.org/2019/09/14/760780871/saturday-sports-horse-racing-antonio-brown.

This is a nice congruent conflation of “closing ranks” and “circling the wagons”, both meaning to become defensive.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and striking malaphor gold! @ESPNMichele


They are not putting all their marbles in one basket

This one is from the ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption” (PTI).  There was a discussion about the Lakers and LeBron James’ free agency. Michael Wilbon reported that Magic Johnson [the Lakers’ director of basketball operations] stated that they are not putting all their marbles in one basket. Even Tony Kornheiser then pointed out to Michael that it should have been eggs, not marbles.  This is a nice conflation of “for all the marbles” (all the winnings, spoils, or rewards) and “put all your eggs in one basket” (to invest all of one’s energy in a single venture).  Marbles resemble eggs and vice versa so this is probably the reason for the mix up.  A big thanks to Gerry Abbott for hearing this one and sending it in.

If you liked this malaphor, check out THE book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205.   Buying it is like putting all your malaphors in one basket.

We looked each other in the mirror

This was spoken by NBA Wizards basketball player John Wall in an ESPN interview.  It is a conflation of “look (someone) in the eyes (or face)” (face someone directly and forthrightly) and “look at myself in the mirror” (be candid and truthful with yourself).  One certainly looks at one’s face or eyes when staring into a mirror, so the mix up is generated from that visual image, I think.  A tip of the hat to Lin Sewell who heard this one and passed it on!

At least you went down guns loaded, or guns blown, whatever.

Since it is NFL football Sunday, I thought I would share this nice little malaphor uttered by the Buffalo Bills quarterback, EJ Manuel.  After being benched in favor of Kyle Orton, he made it clear that he wants another chance.

“You don’t worry about the repercussions. If something happens, at least you went down guns loaded, or guns blown, whatever. You just go out there and let it rip. That’s what I’ve been practicing out there this week, against our defense, so just allowing myself to go out and make plays naturally.”


This is a mash up of  “went down fighting” and “go down with guns blazing”,  both meaning putting up a fight.  The malaphor results in exactly the opposite meaning – went down with guns loaded, i.e., did not put up a fight.   The “whatever” perhaps was an exasperated searching in his mind for the correct idiom.  That happens to me a lot.  Whatever.    A big thanks to John Costello for hearing this one and passing it along.  The sports world comes through again!

I think that’s the pink elephant in the room

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.”

Read A-Rod hopes for return to Yankees on Monday on ESPN.com


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.