It’s petering down

No, this was not said in an erectile dysfunction commercial, but rather by Heidi Przybyla on MSNBC’s Morning Joe the other day.  She was talking about the Mueller investigation.  It is a congruent conflation of “petering out” and “winding down”, both meaning to slowly come to a conclusion or end.  Another tip of the hat to Frank King for spotting this one.  He has the ears of a hawk.


Trump sees a window and he’s taking it

This one is from an online article posted by John Cassidy, the fine New Yorker columnist, quoting another pundit on the Sessions firing. “This is a frontal assault on the Mueller investigation”, Susan Hennessey, the executive editor of the Lawfare blog, wrote on Twitter.  “Trump sees a window and he’s taking it.” This is a conflation of “sees an opening” and “window of opportunity”, both meaning a short period of time in which one has a favorable opportunity to do or accomplish something.  A window is an opening, and thus the reason for the mashup.  Kudos to John Costello for spotting this one and sending it in.
Did you enjoy this one?  There are many more like this one in my book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available at Amazon.  Click on this link for more!

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

This is a mashup of the phrases “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick” (better than nothing) and “kick in the pants” (message or gesture that acts as motivation for the recipient).  Kicking and poking are confused here.  Or maybe the speaker was saying just do something to get motivated?  A big thanks to Eric for sending this one in!

It’s on a slippery scale

This one was uttered on the t.v. show The View.  The contributor was sitting in a doctor’s office and heard it on the t.v. that was above her head.  This is a nice mashup of “slippery slope” (a behavior or action will lead to a worse form of the same behavior or action) and “sliding scale” (a system in which the rate at which something is paid changes as a result of other condition).  “Slopes” and “scales” are six letter words starting with s and sound somewhat similar, which I think is the cause of this malaphor.  Both phrases also describe something that changes as a result of another action.  A big thanks to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this one and passing it on.  She has the ears of a hawk!


We’re going to leave nothing uncovered

This one comes from Donald Trump, explaining how he’s going to thoroughly investigate the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.  It is a great mash up of “leave no stone unturned” (to look for something in every possible place) and “leave nothing to chance” (to allow nothing to be settled by chance) or perhaps also “uncover the truth.” The added bonus here is that his mash up manages to mean exactly the opposite of what he intended.

Here is the link:

A big thanks to David Barnes for spotting this one and sending it in.

Not to put too fine a brush on it

Heard on Morning Joe by Joe himself.  It is a mashup of “put too fine a point on it” (to belabor or exaggerate the importance of some point or detail), and “paint (something) with a broad brush” (describe something in general or vague terms).  Brushes can indeed be fine, hence the mixup.  A big thanks to Frank King for spotting yet another malaphor in the wilds of MSNBC.

He’s barking up the wrong horse

This one was almost uttered and then held back, apparently realizing it was wrong.  It is a nice mashup of “barking up the wrong tree” (to attempt a futile course of action) and “backing the wrong horse” (to support a person in an effort that fails).  Both phrases involve failure, and “barking” and “backing” sound and look similar, hence the mix up.  Also, the word “wrong” is in each idiom, contributing to the mental hiccup.  As I have posted previously, idioms involving horses for some reason are frequently mixed up, causing malaphors.  Go to the Malaphors web page and search “horse”.  You will find a treasure trove of malaphors.  As Kramer would say, “Giddyup!”  A big thanks to John Kooser for almost belching out this one.