Bill Maher said this one on his show last week, referring to Nate Silver’s analysis of the election and why people should listen to him. It is a mashup of “crunch the numbers” (performs numerous calculations) and “crack the code” (solve a difficult problem or mystery). “Crunching” and “cracking” are both similar sounding words (lots of onomatopoeia going on here), contributing to the merry mixup. A code usually involves numbers, so that might have been swirling in the speaker’s brain at the time. Another tip of the crack to Mike Kovacs who heard this one.
I am discussing these two malaphors together as they were uttered on the same topic and they are mashups of similar idioms. The first, “straight from the hip”, was spoken on the Nicole Wallace show, Deadline: White House, during a discussion about Biden’s town hall and that he was speaking “straight from the hip”. “Straight from the shoulder” (simple, direct, and forthright) is what the speaker meant to say, and this was mixed with “shoot from the hip” (to speak rashly or recklessly). The phrases are almost opposites, making this an excellent example of an incongruent conflation (unintentional blend of two or more idioms with opposite meanings).
The second malaphor, “shoot from the shoulder”, was uttered by Joe Biden at his town hall (and this is the phrase MSNBC had latched on in the malaphor above). Herer is the quote:
“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd Thursday night in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton.
This is also a mashup of “straight from the shoulder” and “shoot from the hip”, another incongruent conflation. Body parts and alliteration are all responsible for these mixups. A big thank you to Bruce Ryan, Pamela Pankey, John Pekich, and Kathy Meinhardt for all spotting the malaphor.
This one was spotted in a New York Times article, covering the Presidential race in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here is the context and quote:
Chris Rutherford, 51, of Minneapolis, is leaning back in Mr. Trump’s direction as a result of recent unrest. A Republican who said he was dismayed by Mr. Trump’s “constant lying,” Mr. Rutherford said he had been deeply troubled by the damage to his community inflicted first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by episodes of vandalism and rioting.
“Covid is wiping out these businesses and this was the nail in the coffin,” Mr. Rutherford said, stressing, “We cannot have these riots.”
Mr. Rutherford said that while he slightly favored Mr. Trump, he might still support Mr. Biden if he did more to warn of repercussions for people who “grotesquely violate the law.”
“He says, ‘I condemn,’ but he doesn’t ever say what he’s going to do,” Mr. Rutherford said, adding that if Mr. Biden went further it would be “the straw that would tip me over to him.”
This is a mashup of “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, “the last straw”, (both meaning the final problem in a series that causes one to finally lose one’s patience) and “tip the scales (or balance)” (something that upsets the balance such that one side gains advantage). It’s almost a congruent conflation, as all the expressions refer to an incident or something that finally changes the situation. As the contributor points out, “straws” seem to pop up in malaphors frequently. Past examples include “it was the nail that broke the camel’s back”, https://malaphors.com/2016/04/06/it-was-the-nail-that-broke-the-camels-back/, “the last straw in the coffin”, https://malaphors.com/2012/11/22/the-last-straw-in-the-coffin/, “I’m at the end of my straw”, https://malaphors.com/2013/04/12/im-at-the-end-of-the-straw/, and “that’s a bit of a straw horse”, https://malaphors.com/2019/04/29/thats-a-bit-of-a-straw-horse-isnt-it/. Even one of my all time favorites, “let’s draw hats”, has the ubiquitous straw floating in the speaker’s mind. A big thank you to Barry Eigen for noticing this one and sending it in.
Still thinking about buying the latest malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”? This latest malaphor might be the straw that tips you over. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860
Jeannie Blaylock, a TV news anchor in Jacksonville, Fl, uttered this one when she was discussing the financial strain of COVID. It is a congruent conflation of people “falling through the cracks” and “falling behind”, both meaning those who are not helped by the system which is supposed to deal with them. “Falling” is the common word here, and is the cause of the mashup. A tip of the crack to Lou Pugliese who heard this gem.
This tongue-tied malaphor should be the slogan for all malaphors. It is a mashup of “tripping over (one’s) words” (speak unclearly) and “slip of the tongue” (an error in speaking). “Stumble over (one’s) words” might also be in the mix. Using the tongue to speak was clearly on the speaker’s mind when she confused slip and trip. A big thank you to Doree Simon who uttered and sent in this mixup.
This terrific word blend was uttered by our Malaphorer-in-Chief at a rally in Michigan:
During his rally in Freeland, Michigan, Trump told the packed and largely maskless crowd that “Michigan gave us Motang,” then added “Gave us Motown, gave us the Mustang.”
You can hear the clip here: https://www.mediaite.com/news/watch-trump-tells-crowd-michigan-gave-us-motang-and-twitter-has-a-field-day/
It is of course a mashup of Motown and Mustang, two things that Trump said Michigan gave us. Word blends are a subset of malaphors. They are unconscious blends of words to make an unintentional new word. The word sounds or looks correct at first blush, but then on closer examination is incorrect. Examples on my website are “Buckminster Palace” (Buckingham and Westminster, and/or possibly Buckminster Fuller) and “split-minute decision” (split second and last minute). Word nerds might say these are portmanteaus, but a portmanteau is a combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word.
A big thank you to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in immediately. It is actually getting quite a buzz on Twitter.
This subtle little malaphor was found in a Washington Post article:
“This is going to force Joe Biden to come out of the basement, so to say,” said Robert Graham, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman. “People don’t just want ‘content.’ They want to see him out there.”
It is a congruent conflation of “so to speak” and “you might say”, both meaning to be said a certain way, even though the words are not exactly accurate. Kudos to Bruce Ryan for spotting this one.
Another trumpafor. Trump uttered this one at a recent news conference, discussing the coronavirus. Here is the text:
“We’re really rounding the turn. The vaccines are coming. The therapeutics have already come but they’re continuing to come,” Trump said of the coronavirus.
This is a congruent conflation of “rounding the corner”, “turning the corner”, and “rounding the bend”, all meaning to begin to find success after a troubling period. A big thanks to Fred Martin and Sam Edelmann for both hearing this one.
This one was uttered by Joy Reid on her MSNBC show. It is a conflation of “finger in every pie” (involvement in several different activities) and “chicken in every pot” ( a symbol of wealth and prosperity). The latter phrase came from a newspaper advertisement by the Republican National Committee during Herbert Hoover’s 1928 presidential campaign. The ad pointed out that the preceding administrations of presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge had “put the proverbial ‘chicken in every pot.’ And a car in every backyard, to boot.” Although credited with the statement, Hoover never promised “a chicken in every pot.” In a similar vein, King Henry IV of France vowed on his coronation in 1589 that “if God grants me the usual length of life, I hope to make France so prosperous that every peasant will have a chicken in his pot on Sunday.” His assassination in 1610 at age fifty-seven stymied such a plan.
A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in!