This is from a video about a person describing a mental health condition to his doctor. The speaker said, “It’s helpful to get a recording in case you can’t quite pin the nail on the head.” This is a mashup of “pin it down” (to establish or determine something concretely) and “hit the nail on the head” (to do exactly the right thing). As the submitter said, certainly the game “pin the tail on the donkey” was probably on the speaker’s mind. A big thanks to Jake A. Phillips for sending this one in!
Nela Richardson, Ph.D, chief economist for Redfin, speaking on the podcast Marketplace, was referring to a point made by her colleague on the correlation on the lack of wage growth and persistent complaints by some employers that they’re unable to fill open positions. This is a nice congruent conflation of “hit the mark” and “hit the nail on the head”, both meaning to be accurate or correct. As the submitter points out, “hit the head” is a also a naval expression for going to the bathroom. Having grown up on Naval bases, I used and still use that expression often. Not sure Dr. Robinson had the same experience, but if so, it could be the reason for her mashup. A tip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one!
This jumble involves the word nail and perhaps vampires? It is a mash up of “hit the nail on the head” (to get exactly right) and “the final nail in the coffin” (an event that ultimately leads to the failure of a situation or event that has already begun to fail). Also in the mix is probably “another nail in the coffin” (something that will harm or destroy someone – e.g., cigarette). Certainly the common word “nail” is the culprit here, but also the phrases conjure up the image of hitting a nail on something. For me, the image of the wooden stake (nail?) being driven in the heart of a vampire might be adding to the mix-up. A big thank you to Lou Holtzman, who heard this from a co-worker and immediately send it to Malaphor Central. That was the right thing to do, Lou; otherwise you would have forgotten it, as the best malaphors are fleeting thoughts.
This one comes to us courtesy of CBS Sports. Mike Carey, the “CBS Officiating Expert” on the NFL, said this beauty during the Denver-Kansas City game. This is a congruent conflation of “hit the nail on the head” and “nailed it”, both meaning to do exactly the right thing. This is a particular good one, as it is subtle and combines phrases with the same meaning. Some of the confusion lies in the visual of hammering a nail on its head. It is similar to “You hit it right on the nail”, reported on 8/29/12 in this website. A big thank you to Mike Kovacs for reporting this one!
If you type this malaphor on a google search, you get hundreds of responses, reflecting how often this malaphor is written/spoken. It is a blend of “hit it on the nose” and “hit the nail on the head”, both phrases meaning getting something exactly right. I suspect the confusion here is also prompted by two words that are both body parts and four letter words. It also could be from watching too many Three Stooges comedies.