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The Manafort situation throws the whole incentive system on its head

Columbia Law School professor Berit Berger uttered this one on the MSNBC show “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams”. She was discussing the pardon system and the Manafort case.  This is a mashup of “turn (something) on its head” (to alter something in an unexpected way) and “throw it out the window” (forgotten, disregarded).  “Turning” and “throwing” seems to have caused the mixup here.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one.

 

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My hackles were ruffled

This was overheard at a nearby table at breakfast.  This is a brilliant congruent conflation of “ruffle (ones’) feathers” and “raise (one’s) hackles”, both meaning to make one irritated or angry.  “Ruffle” and “raise” both begin with the letter r, possibly contributing to the mix.  By the way, do you know what “hackles” are?  Hackles are the hairs on the back of an animal’s neck, which stick up when the animal feels fearful or angry (late 1800s).  So, the two expressions involve some type of body covering sticking up, a perfect explanation of the mashup.  A bravo to Sam Edelmann who heard this one all the way from India.

I’m worried stiff

Heard on the MSNBC show with Chris Hayes.  This is a conflation of “scared stiff” (utterly terrified) and “worried sick” (very concerned about a person or situation).  I have heard this one a lot.  “Sick” and “stiff” are similar sounding words, contributing to the mashup.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one!

If you liked this one, check out my book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”.  It’s available on Amazon for a cheap $7.99.  Just click on the link – https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205


He tends to pull things out of his head

Heard on MSNBC by Matt Miller, a former spokesperson for the Justice Department.  He was talking about Rudy Giuliani and his off the cuff (“shoots off the cuff?”) remarks in interviews.  This is a triple congruent conflation of “off the top of one’s head”, “pluck (something) out of thin air”, and “pull (something) out of a hat”, all meaning a random thought.  “Head” and “hat” get confused a lot and that’s what appears to have happened here.  As you know, the usual thing pulled out of a hat is a rabbit.  As “my ol’ pal” notes, tThe more usual metaphor nowadays is “pull things out of his ass” (making things up) which is probably closer to the meaning of what Matt Miller was trying to convey about Giuliani.  For obvious reasons he probably substituted “head” for “ass” at the last second.  Thus the birth of this malaphor.

 


My mother could dance you under the table

This one was heard at a retirement party for an organist/choirmaster. In recounting her history, the organist talked about how her mother had a great sense of rhythm, which she inherited.  This is a mashup of “dance up a storm” (dance with intensity) and “drink you under the table” (to be able to drink more alcohol than someone else).  Drinking and dancing both start with the letter “d” and both actions are often both associated together, hence the mix up.

The phrase appears in the Urban Dictionary with a decidedly different definition.  https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Danced%20Her%20Under%20The%20Table.  A tip of the hat to Barry Eigen, who heard this one and submitted it to Malaphor Central.


Starting to make a turn back?

This crazy word blend mash up is courtesy of a tweet from President Donald Trump.  Here is the tweet:

This is a word blend of “”turnaround” ( a complete change in opinion or method) and “comeback” (a return to popularity).  As I have noted before in previous posts, malaphors can be word blends or idiom blends.  The word blend seems to be a less common phenomenon.


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” :

https://malaphors.com/2017/03/27/reading-between-the-tea-leaves/

A shout out to Mike Ameel for hearing this one and sending it in.