I don’t have a dog in this race

This nice, subtle malaphor was heard on Bill Simmons’ sports podcast.  Simmons was talking with another NFL commentator about how every off season different teams/franchises make terrible decisions related to overpaying quarterbacks in free agency (such as Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins signing w/the Broncos, Cardinals, Vikings respectively this week).  He’s a Patriots fan, so he concluded by saying he doesn’t “have a dog in this race” (doesn’t care about any of these teams or quarterbacks personally), but just thinks it’s maddening to see teams making the same mistakes year after year.  This is a congruent conflation of “don’t have a dog in the hunt” and “don’t have a horse in this race”, both meaning to not have a vested interest in something.  The speaker might be a fan of dog races, hence the mix up.  In any event, this is a classic malaphor.  Many thanks to Justin Taylor for hearing this one and passing it on.
Any vested interest in seeing more malaphors?  Check out my book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon today for a cheap $6.99.   Unless you don’t have a dog in this race…..

She can’t pull it through

This was overheard in a discussion about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.  The speaker was saying that while Tonya may have known of the planned attack,  she didn’t think she could “pull it through”.  This is a mashup of “pull it off” and “go through with it”, both meaning to be able to accomplish something.  A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one and passed it on.


The two hats should never cross

This one is from a tweet posted by Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell.  A reader wrote to him:

“Back when I was a pre-K teacher, I was also a responsible gun-owner. Never had a shooting, but if I had, I couldn’t have managed 20 kids AND a gun. The two hats should never cross.”

This is a mashup of “wearing two hats” (to hold or function in one position or role) and “crossing paths” (to meet someone by chance and not by choice).  A tip of the hat to Tom Justice for seeing this one and sending it in.


I put my motivation on the back seat

This jumble was spoken by someone who was relating that she had no been motivated in the past but was now ready to move forward.  It is a mashup of “on the back burner” (postponed or suspended) and “take a back seat” (occupy an inferior position; allow another to be in control).  Both idioms contain the word “back”, causing I suspect the confusion.  Not sure I have left my motivation on the back seat of the car, but certainly my wallet and sunglasses.  A big thanks to Lynn Hannula Johnson for hearing this one and sending it in.


Are you giving me a break?

Had to post this congruent conflation immediately, as it was said last night by former Trump aide Sam Nunberg on in an MSNBC interview.  Given the context, Nunberg mixed “give me a break”, and “are you kidding me?”, both scoffling retorts to something that seems unbelievable or ridiculous.“Are you giving me a break?” calls it a “Borat-esque phrase”, but you and I know it to be a beautifully constructed malaphor. 

A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and passing it on.

If you liked this jumble, take a break and pick up my book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon!  Just click here:


Even the playing field

This subtle congruent conflation was uttered by Jenna Bush Hager on the Today show.  It is a mashup of “level the playing field” and “even the odds”, both meaning to make a situation or activity more fair and balanced.  This one is heard often, as the two expressions have the same meaning and contain words that are synonyms – even and level.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.  Frank has the ears of a hawk when it comes to malaphors.  By the way, check out Frank’s website,


She’s the bread earner

The speaker was talking about a couple and their finances.  It is a nice congruent conflation of “breadwinner” and “wage earner”, both referring to the person whose earnings are the primary support for his/her dependents.  Of course, “bread” is slang for money, so bread earner makes a lot of sense (cents?) to me.  A big thanks to Elaine Hatfield for sharing this one.