bottom of the pack

Joy Reid on MSNBC was discussing the Democratic debate and the attacks from those candidates with the least to lose, referring to them as “those polling at the bottom of the pack”.  This is a mashup of “back of the pack”  (last ones) and “bottom of the barrel” (least desirable).  I suppose this malaphor fits if you are referring to playing cards, or when you have been binge swiping on Tinder and have run out of people – see Urban Dictionary

A shout out to Frank King, a malaphor spotting regular.  Good ear, Frank!


It’s slow sledding

The speaker was discussing a contract that was particularly difficult to draft.  It is a nice mashup of “rough (or tough) sledding” (difficult or turbulent period of time or undertaking) and “slow going” (a state of slow or arduous process).  Both idioms refer to a difficult process that is slow, tedious, and difficult.  The speaker also might have been thinking “snow sledding”, given the unusually hot temperatures right now.  A big thanks to Donna Doblick who confessed that she was indeed the speaker and for sharing this one.  It happens to us all, Donna.

I was double-stabbed

The speaker was talking about someone at work who had requested something and then was later penalized for the exact thing.  It is a nice congruent conflation of “stabbed in the back” and “double-crossed”, both meaning to be betrayed.  A big thanks to Jamie for sharing this one, and who immediately recognized it was a malaphor!  Glad you shared it immediately, Jamie, as they quickly recede from the memory banks for some reason.

He always said 1990 was the year he hit the rocks

This one comes from New York Times reporter Susanne Craig, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, discussing her reporting on Donald Trump’s business losses during 1984-1994.  It is a congruent conflation of “hit rock bottom” and “hit the skids”, both referring to a period of trouble or decline.  Both contain the word “hit”, contributing to the mixup.  “Hit a new low” might also be in the mix.  A big thanks to Vicki Ameel Kovacs for hearing this one.  Vicki can spot a malaphor a mile away.

They would jump on a bullet for him

This was uttered when discussing the blind loyalty of Trump supporters.  It is a congruent conflation of “take a bullet for (someone)” and “falling (or jumping) on a grenade for (someone)”, both meaning to accept a personally harmful or sacrificial task to protect someone else.  Jumping on a bullet doesn’t seem like a great sacrifice to me, so perhaps this speaker was not such a loyal follower.  A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this one.

This is the big, 40,000 foot question

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” ( and “we were 3 sheets passing in the night” (  A big thanks to Tom Justice for hearing this one and sending it in!

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.