We keep our eyes to the ground

This is a mix of “keep an ear to the ground” (alert and listening for clues) and “keep your eyes wide open (or peeled)” (vigilant and watchful).  This subtle conflation was heard on Bloomberg news:
Question from interviewer:  how do you have such success picking funds?
Ans:  we keep our eyes to the ground.
The speaker quickly corrected himself and said: “We keep our ears to the ground and look ahead.”  Self caught malaphor.  Nice.  A big thank you to John Costello for hearing this one.


He’s out to butter his own nest

English: A pat of butter, served on a leaf, wi...

English: A pat of butter, served on a leaf, with a butter knife and bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This slippery malaphor is a mash up of “feather your own nest” (use power and prestige to one’s advantage selfishly) and perhaps “know which side your bread is buttered on” (to be loyal to the person who will benefit you the most).   “Bread and butter” (someone’s livelihood or source of income) could also be a player here.  There is also an Hungarian expression -több mindent jelenthet – roughly translated “butter one’s bread on both sides” and meaning leaving nothing for others to argue or complain.   My ol’ pal indicates “buttering your own bread” (using power to gain income selfishly) may also be part of this mix up.


He threw a cold shoulder on the idea

Classic mix-up of “threw cold water on” (negative about something) and “turn a cold shoulder” (snub someone).  Both expressions indicate negativity; “cold water” is negativity toward something and “cold shoulder” negativity toward someone.  In this case, perhaps the speaker not only disliked the idea but the person expressing the idea as well?