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I wish I could read between the tea lines

This was heard in a morning radio show (WDVE) interview with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner, Art Rooney II.  Mr. Rooney was talking about the wide receiver, Antonio Brown, and what will happen to him in the future.  This is a nice conflation of “reading the tea leaves” (predicting on little bits of information) and “reading between the lines” (perceiving an obscure or unexpressed meaning).  Both idioms pertain to perceiving or predicting, and both contain the word “reading”.   “Lines” and “leaves” are also similar sounding words.  This is similar to my prior posted malaphor, “read between the tea leaves” :

https://malaphors.com/2017/03/27/reading-between-the-tea-leaves/

A shout out to Mike Ameel for hearing this one and sending it in.

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You can’t get a leopard to change his stripes

This was uttered by an employee commenting on a work group that seem set in its ways.  It is a nice congruent conflation of “a leopard cannot change its spots” and “can’t change one’s stripes”, both meaning that people are incapable of changing their essential nature.  The speaker might also have been thinking of the expression “a tiger cannot change its stripes”, meaning the same as the two expressions above.  Confusing tigers and leopards is certainly understandable, both being big cats.  A big thanks to Steven Michael for hearing this one!


I can’t put my tongue on it

A girl was asked what gift she wanted for Christmas.  She couldn’t remember the name of the toy, and uttered this congruent conflation of “can’t put my finger on it” and “on the tip of my tongue”, both meaning something one can’t quite recall.   Fingers have tips so perhaps that is what led to the speaker’s confusion.  Or maybe she had watched too many reruns of the movie “A Christmas Story”.  A big thanks to Hannah Evanuik for overhearing this one!


My old car shit the bucket

Maggie Acker uttered this beauty when talking about her car that stopped running.  It is a congruent conflation of “kicked the bucket” and “shit the bed”, both idioms referring to something or someone that died or failed.  “Shit the bed” is a relatively new idiom (I found it in the Wiktionary – https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shit_the_bed ).  It usually refers to something that breaks and can’t be repaired, like a cell phone.  Interestingly, in the U.K, it means to express surprise.  The mental mix up probably also was caused by the similar sounding words “kick” and “shit”.  A big, big thanks to John Fischer who heard this one and passed it on.


Everything’s peachy-dory

While I have posted this one before (https://malaphors.com/2014/03/16/thats-just-peachy-dory/), it bears repeating as President Trump said it a few days ago.  Let’s go to the transcript:

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the news incorrectly reported.  Because I said, well, if we go back and everything is peachy- dory, and you say, “We’ll talk over 30 days,” at the end of 30 days, are you going to give us great border security, which includes a wall or a steel barrier.

This is a mash up of the expressions peachy keen and hunky-dory, both meaning fine or satisfactory.  This seems to be a fairly common malaphor, based on internet hits.  Now hunky keen is a different matter….Several of you caught this one, including Steve Grieme and Mike Kovacs, both expert malaphor hunters.


He should have shown more fire and vinegar

Another from sports talk radio.  Andrew Fillipponi from 93.7 The Fan (a Pittsburgh sports talk radio show) was talking about Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s lack of anger and passion at his press conference after the loss to the New Orleans Saints.  It is a sweet mashup of “fire and brimstone” (intense speech filled with emotion and anger) and “piss and vinegar” (having an abundance or excessive amount of rowdiness or enthusiasm).  Maybe the speaker didn’t want to say “piss” on the air, but he could then have substituted “spit” as “spit and vinegar” has the same meaning.   The contributor of this nice malaphor wanted to remain anonymous so I respect his/her wishes.


Negotiating with Trump is like trying to talk to Jello

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) uttered this gem on CNN January 4, 2019.  The context is regarding the recent Government shutdown over Trump’s proposed wall.  This is a conflation of “like talking to a wall” (a futile conversation because the other party is not listening) and “like nailing Jello to a wall” (a futile attempt at something).  Both idioms contain the word “wall” (appropriate in context, right?) and both concern something that is futile (a conversation or an attempt).   A hat tip to Tom Justice for hearing this one!