He’s turning over a new lease on life

This perfectly formed malaphor is a mashup of “turning over a new leaf” (to change one’s behavior, usually in a positive way) and “a new lease on life” (a new chance for happiness, usually after a hardship).   “New” is common to both idioms, and the words “lease” and “leaf” are similar sounding.  Both I think contributed to the mental mix up.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for sharing this one with the malaphor world.

If you liked this malaphor you’ll love my book on the subject, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon for a cheap $6.99.  A must for every bathroom library.


Parents should stick to their ground involving kids’ names

I guess that means names like Sandy and Muddy?  This was spotted on Quora, an internet platform to ask questions and get answers.  It is a great congruent conflation of “stick to your guns” and “hold/stand your ground”, both meaning to refuse to yield or compromise.  “Ground” and “guns” both start with a G and have a similar sound, hence the mental mix up.  A big thanks to Margaret Grover who spotted this one and sent it in!

He’s bald as a bat

A work colleague was attempting to describe why a helmet might feel uncomfortable for a customer, saying “Admittedly he’s bald as a bat.  This is a nice mashup of “bald as a coot (or cue ball)” (completely bald) and “blind as a bat” (having poor vision).  I like the alliteration here but bats indeed have hair.  Coots are not bald either.  Coots have prominent frontal shields or other decoration on the forehead, with red to dark red eyes and coloured bills. Many, but not all, have white on the under tail. The featherless shield gave rise to the expression “as bald as a coot,” which the Oxford English Dictionary cites in use as early as 1430.  A shout out to Gibbon for hearing this one and sending it in.

Enjoyed this malaphor?  Then you would love my book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon.

He’s not the brightest fish in the shed

In the continuing series on malaphors describing those who are not very intelligent, I give you this “three way malaphor”.  It is a tri-mashup of “not the sharpest tool in the shed” and “not the brightest bulb in the chandelier”, both describing someone who is not very smart, combined with “not the only fish in the sea” (plenty of other suitable persons).  I have posted multiple variations of this subject in the past, including “not the brightest knife in the drawer”, “not the brightest bulb in the shed”, and “not the sharpest bulb in the shed”.  It just shows that we may want to look in the mirror every once in awhile.  A big thanks to Kimberly Gorgichuk for hearing this one and passing it on.

To add salt to injury

This mixup was found in the following newspaper:

It is a congruent conflation of  “to rub salt in the wound’ and “to add insult to injury”, both meaning to deliberately make someone’s misfortune or unhappiness worse.  “Wound” and “injury” are similar meaning words, probably creating the mental mashup.  Now if the writer had written “add-in salt to injury” that would be an eggcorn.  An eggcorn is a similar sounding phrase spelled differently.   Because of the similar sounding words, this is a very common malaphor, with over 2,300,000 hits, according to Google.  A big thanks to Eve for spotting this one.

They make you jump through too much red tape

The speaker was referring to insurance companies.  This is a nice mix of “jump through hoops” (to complete or face many challenges to achieve something) and “red tape” (bureaucratic rules that are overly strict or tedious).  Both expressions refer to a series of challenges or events, contributing to the confusion.  “Cutting through red tape” is what the speaker really wants.  A big thanks to John Kooser for uttering this one and sending it in.

It’s like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house

This was uttered by Chuck Schumer when discussing Trump’s nominee, Tom Marino, as Drug Czar.  Schumer said Marino’s confirmation would be “like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house”.

This is a mashup of “the fox guarding the hen house” (assigning the duty of guarding valuable information or resources to someone who is likely to exploit that opportunity) and “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” (a person or thing that appears harmless but is actually dangerous).  Now certainly you wouldn’t want a wolf in charge of the hen house either, but the correct idiom only indicts the fox.  A big thanks to Steve Grieme for catching this one and sending it on.