Equal playing field

Former Congresswoman Katie Hill, who resigned after sex scandal involving her ex-husband, uttered this nice subtle malaphor on the MSNBC show “All In” (Ali Velshi was subbing that night).  it is a congruent conflation of “level playing field” and “equal footing”, both meaning to describe a situation where everyone gets the same opportunity.  Interestingly, Equal Playing Field is the name of a non-profit organization for women athletes.  https://www.facebook.com/equalplayingfield/?ref=page_internal
A big thanks once again to Frank King for hearing this one.

They’re going to leave it all on the table; they’re going to put it all on the court.

This is a rare double malaphor spoken by Van Jones on the Anderson Cooper show 360 degrees.  Here is the excerpt from the CNN transcript:

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think they’re going to leave it all on the table. They’re going to put it all on the court. Look, I think if you are Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, to sit here — I mean, if you think we feel heartbroken, terrified and just, you know, miserable about what’s going on, imagine how they feel.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2008/16/acd.02.html

The first malaphor, “leave it all on the table”, is a congruent conflation of “leave it all on the field” and “leave nothing on the table”, both meaning to give something 100% or everything you have. The second, “put it all on the court”, is a mashup of “leave it all on the court” (give something 100%) and put it all on the line” (risk everything for something).  Mixing sports idioms with politics is a risky business, and Mr. Jones realized he had uttered a malaphor, but his quick attempt made him step into malaphor doo doo once more.  This unicorn was spotted by Bruce Ryan, and for that he is now elevated into the Malaphor Hall of Fame.  @VanJones68

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I know where the skeletons are buried

This perfectly formed malaphor is found in the foreward to Michael Cohen’s soon to be released tell all book, “Disloyal”.  Here is the context:

“Trump has no true friends. He has lived his entire life avoiding and evading taking responsibility for his actions. He crushed or cheated all who stood in his way, but I know where the skeletons are buried because I was the one who buried them.”  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/michael-cohen-trump-disloyal-skeletons

This is a conflation of “know where (all) the bodies are buried” (to know secret or scandalous information about a person or group) and “have skeletons in (one’s) the closet” (to have damaging or incriminating secrets from one’s past).  Both idioms involve secrets and damaging information, and both involve dead bodies, hence the mixup.  This mashup is actually brilliant in that it incorporates damaging information and where to get the damaging information all in one terrific malaphor.

A big thanks to Mike Kovacs, Chief Malaphor Hunter, for spotting this one in plain sight.  Bravo.


The disciples fell on their feet

A pastor was teaching on Psalm 76, noting that when Jesus was transfigured the disciples fell on their feet.  This is a conflation of “fall on (one’s) knees” (to kneel down as a show of respect) and “be swept off (one’s) feet” (to become very enamored with someone).  Both expressions involve admiration or awe of another.  Also the body parts “knees” and “feet” seem to be the source of the confusion here.  Of course, “fall on (one’s) feet” is an expression indicating one who is lucky or successful, and I suppose that is true in the disciples’ case.  However, I believe it is a malaphor given the context.  A big thanks to Steve Grieme who heard this one and passed it on!


I don’t have any horse in the game

Was Dr. Fauci thinking of the America song, “Horse with No Name?”  I don’t know, but this was uttered by Dr. Fauci at a Congressional hearing held this week.  It is a perfectly formed congruent conflation of “no skin in the game” and “no horse in this race”, both expressions meaning when one is not invested in the outcome.  A race is a game so this seems to be the reason for the mixup.  Also, horseshoes is a game so that might have been on the speaker’s mind.  But I would like to think he had an America ear worm that day and could not get the song out of his head.  A big, big thanks to Steve Grieme, Yvonne Stam, and Rozsa Harris for all hearing this one and sending it in within hours of each other.  A malaphor tidal wave.


Skip to the chase

This one comes courtesy of the classic movie, “Best in Show”.  The Jane Lynch character is talking about how her poodle will easily win and that the Judges should just “skip to the chase” and give her the trophy.  This is a mashup of “skip it” (ignore the matter) and “cut to the chase” (get to the point; get on with it).  As the Christopher Guest mockumentaries were largely ad-libbed, my guess is that this malaphor was not intentionally written.  A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one and sent it in.

Why don't we skip to the chase here, and just give me the cup.


Knock you back on your socks

Chuck Todd on MSNBC was describing Democratic strategist worries about certain voter registration numbers.  This is a congruent conflation of “knock your socks off” and “set (one) back on (one’s) heels” , both meaning to put one in a state of surprise.  A big thanks to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in!


The genie is out of the box

This is a nice bookend to another malaphor recently posted, “the genie is out of the bag” – https://malaphors.com/2020/06/17/the-genie-is-out-of-the-bag/.  It is also similar to “we can’t put the genie back in the box”, another malaphor posted on this site.  https://malaphors.com/2016/04/11/we-cant-put-the-genie-back-in-the-box/.  “The genie is out of the box” was uttered on CNN recently and also appears in an Axios article:

“We think the model has long-term viability,” says Barbieri. “The next California wildfire or earthquake or hurricane… now that the genie is out of the box, it’s never going back.”

https://www.axios.com/spontaneous-entrepreneurship-amid-the-coronavirus-crisis-04266f01-e79a-4eb4-9564-5f01a417d8b9.html

It is a mash up of “the genie is out of the bottle” (something has been done that cannot be changed) and “opening Pandora’s box” (doing something that causes a lot of unexpected problems).  Both involve mythical creatures that cause trouble.  Also, opening Pandora’s box has a similar meaning to letting the genie out of the bottle.  Both are impossible to close once opened.  I also think the mix up is caused by the containers themselves – getting things from boxes and bottles.  It’s possible a jack-in-the-box was also on the speaker/writer’s mind.  A tip of the hat to Ginny Justice who heard this one and passed it on.

genie in a box


To see things from other people’s shoes

This mashup was spotted on Facebook.  Here is the post:

This is a congruent conflation of “through the eyes of (someone)” and “walk (stand) in (someone’s) shoes”, both meaning to consider another’s perspective, experience, or motivation.  “See things from another angle” might also be in the mix.  Then again, a pair of nice, shiny patent leather shoes could literally help you do this.  A big thanks to Grant Shipley for spotting this and Yvonne Stam for sending it in.