James Joseph, senior FEMA administrator, on CNN, told people in Florida not to ignore warnings and think themselves safe from the effects of the oncoming hurricane Dorian. It’s a congruent conflation of “out of the woods” and “in the clear”, both meaning to be free of danger. Perhaps the speaker was thinking of a clearing in the woods. “Out of danger”, also meaning to be free of danger, might also be in the mix. A big thanks to “my ol’ pal” Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this one.
This dandy conflation comes straight from the mouth of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. She was discussing Russian interference in the U.S. Presidential election and explained that “we are not out of the clear”. This is congruent conflation of “out of the woods” and “in the clear”, both meaning to be free from danger or suspicion of wrongdoing. This malaphor was repeated by MSNBC on its twitter feed: Sen. Kamala Harris: “We’re not out of the clear in terms of 2018 election cycle” https://twitter.com/MSNBC/status/952057691974881280
Many followers caught this one, including Beatrice Zablocki, Sam Edelmann, and Frank King. I guess this one was very clear.