You may want to take your foot off the throat a little bit

A faculty member was cautioning a student who was putting together a very aggressive class schedule and uttered this malaphor, although it might be a malaprop.  I think it is a congruent conflation of  “put your foot on the gas”  and “going full throttle”, both meaning to move very quickly.  “Throat” is perhaps a malaprop of “throttle” in this instance.  “Ram something down someone’s throat” (to force something upon someone) might be in the mix considering it was spoken in the academic world.  “Put (one’s) foot in (one’s) mouth” (to say something foolish or embarrassing) might also be in play, as the throat is certainly in the mouth.  A big thanks to Lou Pugliese who heard this one and passed it  on!


He wasn’t the brightest bulb in the basket

This is another in the collection of what I call “Idiom Overloads”.  It is a mashup of “not the brightest bulb in the pack (or chandelier)” (slow-witted or dull person) and I think “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” (don’t focus all your attention on one thing).  The speaker was probably imagining a bulb in his mind but eggs also look a little like bulbs.  Since many of the idioms describing dull or stupid people have an “in the (blank)” part of the phrase he then added “in the basket.”  “Basket case” (emotionally unstable person) also may be in the mix.

The various sayings describing a dimwit are similar sounding and involve something in a unit or package that is unique, hence the confusion.   I call this phenomenon “idiom overload”.  I have posted other variations on this theme – see and

Also see

Another example of idiom overload is describing the obvious: “is the Pope Catholic?”. “Does a bear shit in the woods?” etc.  These get mixed up regularly.   A tip of the hat to Josh Berry for hearing this one and sending it on!


He’s really ahead of the eight ball

This was found in Baltimore’s newspaper, the Baltimore Sun.  A player at the Univ. of Maryland said of his teammate, “For someone so young, he’s really ahead of the eight ball.”  This is a nice mashup of “ahead of the curve” (at the forefront of leading something) and “behind the eight ball” (in trouble or in a weak or losing position).  “Behind” and “ahead” are certainly part of the problem here, but also the speaker may have been thinking of a curve ball in baseball.   And of course, in eight ball, you certainly want to be ahead of it when making your shots.  A big thanks to Larry Mason who spotted this beauty.

You’re gunning your wheels

This was uttered by the submitter’s wife.  It is a mashup of “spinning your wheels” (use a lot of effort but not getting anything done) and “gunning your engine” (to race an engine).  My guess is that the speaker was thinking of spinning wheels which led to cars which led to gunning an engine.  Many thanks to Sam Edelmann who heard this and passed it along!

I would not trust that with a barge pole

This malaphor was uttered in the You Tube video “Two Sandy Balls”.  You can hear the mixed idiom at about 14:05 in the video.

It is a nice mashup of “wouldn’t touch that with a barge pole” (do not want to become involved with something or someone in any way) and “would not trust him as far as I could throw him” (don’t trust someone at all).  “Trust” and “touch” are similar sounds and are the source of the confusion here,  I think.  Interestingly, the idiom “would not touch someone with a barge pole” is an idiom heard in the U.K. or in Australia.  In the U.S, that expression is “wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole”. Barge poles were used to push barges, and were ordinarily about ten feet long.  A big thanks to Albie Winter for hearing this one and passing it along!

If you liked this malaphor you will LOVE the book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon (UK and Australia as well!).

It’s better than a kick in the eye with a stick

This tortured saying scrambles “a kick in the pants (or kick up the ass/arse)” (to do or say something to motivate someone who is lazy) and “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick” (better than nothing).   Kick and stick rhyme, creating the confusion.  Also poke and kick are similar assaults on the body.  A big thanks to Ezz for hearing this from a colleague who apparently utters unintentional idiom blends on a frequent basis.  Keep ’em coming, Ezz!

He may have sealed his death warrant

This classic was heard on WWE Raw the other night.  Roman Reigns speared the Undertaker.  The announcer, sensing that the ‘Taker was mad,  said Reigns may have “sealed his death warrant.”  This is a mashup of “sealed his fate” (determining finally the fate of someone) and “signed his own death warrant” (to cause one’s own destruction).  I suppose death warrants are signed, sealed, and delivered, and maybe the speaker had that on his mind.  A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this one and sending it on!