Tim Mak, NPR political reporter on the NPR radio show, Here and Now, was discussing the recent indictment of Roger Stone. He was retelling what was in the indictment, but questioning what evidence Special Counsel Robert Mueller has in his possession. This gem can be heard at 5:15 of the following:
This is a wonderful conflation of “the 64,000 dollar question” (a question very important and/or difficult to answer) and “the 10,000 (or sometimes 20, 30, or 40,000) foot view” (a description of a problem or issue that provides general information, but short on details). Idioms containing numbers are often jumbled. I have posted some other great ones, such as “hindsight is 50/50” (https://malaphors.com/2016/12/20/hindsight-is-5050/) and “we were 3 sheets passing in the night” (https://malaphors.com/2016/10/25/we-were-3-sheets-passing-in-the-night/). A big thanks to Tom Justice for hearing this one and sending it in!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Joe Theismann, the ex-Redskins quarterback, was discussing the 2018 Redskins on a local D.C. sports talk radio show and in particular the average wide receiver corps. This is a mash up of “more (something) than you can shake a stick at” (a very large number) and “nothing to write home about” (not especially remarkable or noteworthy). This is an interesting one as the two idioms have almost opposite meanings – a perfect example of an incongruent conflation. Maybe Joe was thinking of an earthquake with homes shaking when he uttered this one. A big thanks to Joe Welch who heard this one and sent it in.