We fought each other like tooth and tongue

Grace Panetta from Business Insider discussed 11 political friendships that crossed party lines. In the section on Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy, Hatch says:  “I have to say that we became very dear friends. That doesn’t mean we didn’t fight each other. We fought each other like tooth and tongue but afterwards, we’d put our arms around each other and laugh about it,” Hatch told NPR in 2009 after Kennedy’s death.


Given the context, this appears to be a mashup of “tooth and nail, fight/with” (furiously or fiercely) and “hammer and tongs” (energetically or enthusiastically). Tongue sounds like tong (almost a homophone) and so the speaker was probably thinking “tongs”, but that still is a malaphor. The two expressions indicate doing something with great passion, hence the mixup. A tooth is near the tongue, so the substitution of tongue for nail. A big thanks to Lou Pugliese for spotting this one.


Let’s don’t kick this down the chain

Bill Weir on CNN said this while discussing the returns in Arizona. He was discussing the results in different counties and was attempting to say, “let’s don’t jump to any conclusions”. It is a conflation of “(move something) up the chain” (seek approval at the next level) and “kick the can down the road” (defer or postpone a definitive action). Given the context, “kick (something) around” (to discuss something) might be in play. “Up” often means “down” and vice versa in the Malaphor World. A tip of the toque to Steve Hubbard for hearing this one and sending it in.

CNN Digital Expansion 2018, Bill Weir

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” :


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

You’re going to separate the cream from the crop

Sports commentators say the darndest things, and this marvelous mashup was said on an NFL pregame show.  It is a conflation of “the cream of the crop” (the best of a particular group) and “separate the wheat from the chaff” (to separate the good from the inferior).  Because the subject was football, the commentator might also have been thinking of the phrase “separate the men from the boys” (to distinguish the experienced participants from the inexperienced).  Kudos to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and sending it in!

Spur of the minute

I heard this from “the master” several times.  He was never one to do things spontaneously, so I thought this malaphor expressed his actual feelings.  This classic mixes “spur of the moment” with “in a minute”, implying perhaps a bit of hesitancy to a potential spontaneous action?