They are not going to let this ship go down in flames

Kasie Hunt on MSNBC’s Morning Joe was musing about Republican senators not wanting the party to go down with Trump. I believe this is a conflation of “go down with the ship” (to fall or be punished because of one’s involvement with some larger group or enterprise) and “go down in flames” (fail spectacularly). “Shot down in flames” (judged harshly and rejected) might also be in the mix given the context. “Go down” is in both phrases, so is probably the cause of the mixup. A big thanks to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in!

Stem this dam

Heidi Przybyla was on Nicole Wallace’s MSNBC show, Deadline White House, and was talking about members of Congress coming forward and admitting that Biden won. She said there is a “question if those coming forward are going to be enough to stem this dam for part of the country.” This appears to be an incongruent conflation (mix of two idioms with opposite meanings) of “stem the tide” (stop the course of a trend or tendency) and “break the dam” (allow information to flow). A big thanks to Bruce Ryan and Frank King for both hearing this one and sending it in.

I think that’s going to throw them for a curve

This one was spoken by Brad Fox on the HGTV show “Should I Stay or Go”. The homeowners were given an unexpected choice. This is a congruent conflation of “throws (someone) a curve” and “throws (someone) for a loop”, both meaning something unexpected that upsets or confuses someone. “Throw” is the common denominator here that causes the confusion. I have previously posted its bookend, “throws you a loop”, and you can revisit that malaphor at this link – A tip of the hat to Yvonne Stam for hearing this one and sending it in!

That’s not what you call leading from the front foot

Nikema Williams (D-GA) was talking on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports about the current poor leadership. This is a mashup of “leading from the front” (to act or behave the way one advises or espouses) and “getting off on the right foot” (to have a positive or favorable start). I suppose that is better than leading from the back foot. Another big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one.

Let’s don’t kick this down the chain

Bill Weir on CNN said this while discussing the returns in Arizona. He was discussing the results in different counties and was attempting to say, “let’s don’t jump to any conclusions”. It is a conflation of “(move something) up the chain” (seek approval at the next level) and “kick the can down the road” (defer or postpone a definitive action). Given the context, “kick (something) around” (to discuss something) might be in play. “Up” often means “down” and vice versa in the Malaphor World. A tip of the toque to Steve Hubbard for hearing this one and sending it in.

CNN Digital Expansion 2018, Bill Weir

She flipped her tune

This is another from Naomi David. She was talking about someone changing her opinion. This is a congruent conflation of “change (one’s) tune” and “flipped”, both meaning to change or reverse course, or change sides in a controversy. “Flipped the script” (make a total reversal or radical change) might also have been on the speaker’s mind (a shout out to Verbatim for noting this). In this current political climate, she may have been thinking of states “flipping” from red to blue or vice versa. A big thanks to Naomi and to Katie Norwood for hearing this one and passing it on.

We can’t give up our guard right now

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner, was interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” about the coronavirus, and how we are entering the hardest point in the pandemic. This is a conflation of “lower our guard” (to become less vigilant) and “give up” (to yield or relinquish something). “Give up the ghost” (to die) might also be in the mix, given the context. Kudos to Frank King for spotting this in a CNN tweet.

He’s the guy that cracks the numbers

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.

Straight from the hip/Shoot from the shoulder

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.

The straw that would tip me over to him

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”,, “the last straw in the coffin”,, “I’m at the end of my straw”,, and “that’s a bit of a straw horse”,  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: