This was heard on the CBS tv show “The Greatest #AtHome Videos”. Cedric the Entertainer teamed with Kristen Chenoweth to surprise a group of young performers. One of the performers uttered this nice malaphor. You can hear it here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=785249305547779
It is a mashup of “pull out all the stops” (to do someting with maximum effort or ability) and “pull the strings” (to be in control of events or some other people’s actions). “Pulled on our heart strings” might also be in the mix. “Pull” is the common denominator here, and “strings” and “stops” are also similar sounding words, adding to the confusion. A big thanks to Lou Pugliese who heard this one and passed it on.
At first blush, this looked more like a mixed metaphor than a malaphor, but on close inspection it is indeed a mashup of two idioms. This one comes from the local news in Baltimore: a Baltimore City official was giving an update on trash/garbage pickup problems, and trashmen were off work as a result of the coronavirus. Here is the quote:
“This last week has been extremely difficult for everyone involved, but there is a silver lining at the end of that tunnel,” Chalmers said. “The Eastern District will be back up and running tomorrow. If you can’t hear the sigh of relief in my voice, I’m glad that they’re coming back.”
It is a mix of “every cloud has a silver lining” (every bad situation holds the possibility of something good) and “light at the end of the tunnel” (a period of hardship is nearing its end). Both expressions involve a bad situation turning better, so this malaphor perhaps means a doubly bad situation made doubly better? Or maybe the official was thinking of silver linings for the trashcans. A big thanks to Fred Martin for hearing this one and sending it in!
A dentist said this one as he explained all the new things he has to do because of the virus. This is a congruent conflation of “I’m still getting the hang of it” and “I’m still learning the ropes”, both meaning to learn how to do a particular job or task. So, as we begin to reopen the country, make sure and get a few ropes. A big thanks to Barry Eigen for hearing this one and sending it in.
My wife said this one when discussing a spouse who was earning most of the money in the household. It is a word blend malaphor of “breadwinner” (a person who earns money to support a family) and “wage earner” (a person who works for a salary). Check out my word blends I have posted over the years. Just type word blend in the Search feature on the website. Also, I have a chapter devoted to these special malaphors in my book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon for cheap!
Gym owner Monty Webb was frustrated by the lockdown and decided to open. He uttered this nice malaphor, a mashup of “throw (someone) under the bus” (to exploit someone’s trust for one’s own purpose) and “water under the bridge” (something happened in the past and it is not worth worrying about it now). Here is the quote in context:
Gym co-owner Monty Webb of Plum said he’s had enough.
He and his wife, Linda, own and operate Webb’s World of Fitness in Penn Hills.
And he’s open for business.
“I opened because it’s essential. Your heath is essential,” Webb said. “I got tired of the gyms getting thrown under the bridge. You’re thanking all these essential businesses and essential workers. I’ve been doing this for 32 years. It’s essential.”
A big thanks to Mike Ameel for spotting this one and sending it in.
The speaker was remarking that one of the strengths in her workplace was that her fellow workers are always rolling with the flow. This is a congruent conflation of “rolling with the punches” and “going with the flow”, both expressions meaning to be able to deal with a series of difficult situations. This malaphor is also the title of a nice Charlie Rich song, “Rollin’ with the Flow”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAQ96MAtGn8
A big thanks to Elly Pietrucha for sending this one in!
A father and daughter got into an argument about their calico cat, and whether her markings were splotches or patches. The daughter said her Dad was being trivial, and then uttered this malaphor. It is a congruent conflation of “splitting hairs” and “nitpicking” or “picking (something) apart”, all meaning to make small or overfine distinctions. Hope no one has trichotillomania. A shout out to a familiar name on this website, John Kooser (aka “the Dad”) for sending this one in.
Two people were overheard talking about upcoming the 2020 presidential debates between Trump and Joe Biden. One person said of Trump: “Trump’s going to eat him apart….” This is a nice congruent conflation of “eat him alive” and “tear him apart”, both meaning to overwhelm and defeat or dominate another. “Eat his lunch” might also be in the mix, as it has the same meaning as the conflated idioms. My guess is that Biden might be a little tough to chew. A big thank you to Verbatim for sending this one in!
This was from a headline in the Washington Post: “Fauci warns states rushing to reopen: ‘You’re making a really significant risk.” This is a mashup of “making a mistake” (to do something incorrectly) and “taking a risk” (doing something with a high probability of a negative outcome). “Taking” and “making” are mixed up here. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/01/fauci-open-states-coronavirus/
A big thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this subtle one.