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Whatever turns your boat

Overheard at a WalMart at midnight: two women were talking about another woman’s unusual outfit and one of them uttered this classic malaphor.  It is a congruent conflation of “whatever floats your boat” and “whatever turns you on”, both meaning whatever makes you happy.  The phrases both begin with “whatever”, and with boats capsizing, you can see where the confusion arises.  A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one while doing some midnight shopping.

If you enjoyed this one, and are thinking about how to fill that Christmas stocking, why not get the malaphor book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”?  It’s available on Amazon for a cheap 7.99.  Makes a great addition to any bathroom.

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Don’t chew with your mouth full

Did your mother ever tell you this?  Well, the submitter’s mom did, and it is a nice conflation of the admonitions  “don’t chew with your mouth open” and “don’t talk with your mouth full”.  The corollary of course is “don’t talk with your mouth open”, advice many should follow.  A big thanks to Timothy Kendall for sharing this one.


Boiled to a head

This one comes from the sports world.  Here’s the full context: “Sunday’s Bills-Jaguars game started off tense when Jalen Ramsey took time from his busy day to remind Buffalo’s players they were trash. That conflict boiled to a head in the third quarter when a brawl erupted on the turf at New Era Field.”   Here’s the citation: https://www.sbnation.com/2018/11/25/18111422/jaguars-bills-fight-leonard-fournette-shaq-lawson.

This is a nice conflation of “boiled over” (to become extremely intense or out of control) and “come to a head” (to reach a point of intensity at which action must be taken).  “Come to a boil” (to reach a crucial point) is also probably in the mix considering the context.  A boil on the skin has a “head” of sorts and so could have been in the writer’s mind.  A big thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one!


You can look it up in your Strunk and Wagnalls

Not quite Rowan and Martin. The submitter’s wife uttered this nice word blend, which is a conflation of “Funk and Wagnalls” (dictionary/encyclopedia) and “Strunk and White” (American English writing style guide).  The Funk/Strunk rhyming is obviously the culprit here.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and sending it in.

If you want to look up “malaphors”, purchase the malaphor book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, on Amazon.  Makes a great stocking stuffer (or fire starter).


It’s petering down

No, this was not said in an erectile dysfunction commercial, but rather by Heidi Przybyla on MSNBC’s Morning Joe the other day.  She was talking about the Mueller investigation.  It is a congruent conflation of “petering out” and “winding down”, both meaning to slowly come to a conclusion or end.  Another tip of the hat to Frank King for spotting this one.  He has the ears of a hawk.


Trump sees a window and he’s taking it

This one is from an online article posted by John Cassidy, the fine New Yorker columnist, quoting another pundit on the Sessions firing. “This is a frontal assault on the Mueller investigation”, Susan Hennessey, the executive editor of the Lawfare blog, wrote on Twitter.  “Trump sees a window and he’s taking it.” This is a conflation of “sees an opening” and “window of opportunity”, both meaning a short period of time in which one has a favorable opportunity to do or accomplish something.  A window is an opening, and thus the reason for the mashup.  Kudos to John Costello for spotting this one and sending it in.
Did you enjoy this one?  There are many more like this one in my book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available at Amazon.  Click on this link for more! https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205

It’s better than a kick in the eye with a sharp stick

This is a mashup of the phrases “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick” (better than nothing) and “kick in the pants” (message or gesture that acts as motivation for the recipient).  Kicking and poking are confused here.  Or maybe the speaker was saying just do something to get motivated?  A big thanks to Eric for sending this one in!