I’m not the sharpest tack in the drawer

The speaker was not feeling well and mentioned to someone about her mental acuity for the day.  This is an incongruent conflation (opposite meanings) of “not the sharpest knife in the drawer” (not very smart) and “sharp as a tack” (intelligent and quick thinking).  As everyone knows, there are many expressions out there describing the dull witted individual, and these expressions are often mixed up.  I have posted several of these mashups, including “not the brightest tool in the shed”,  https://malaphors.com/2013/06/24/not-the-brightest-tool-in-the-shed/,  “not the sharpest bulb in the shed”, https://malaphors.com/2017/08/03/not-the-sharpest-bulb-in-the-shed/, and “not the brightest knife in the drawer”, https://malaphors.com/2018/02/14/hes-not-the-brightest-knife-in-the-drawer/,  to name just a few.  A big thanks to Yvonne Stam for admitting she uttered this one and realizing it was a malaphor.

Giuliani blew his lid on that

This one was uttered by Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani’s assistant in the Rachel Maddow interview.  Here it is:

Lev was describing Giuliani’s reaction to hearing Ukranian President Zelensky’s decision not to announce an investifation specifically mentioning Joe Biden’s name.  It is a nice congruent conflation of ” “flipped his lid” and “blew his top/stack”, both meaning to become extremely angry or mad.   A huge thanks to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in.

I’m not a poor loser

Yours truly uttered this one in a conversation about a current losing streak in trivia.  It is a congruent conflation of “sore loser” and “poor sport”, both describing a person who reacts negatively in a competition.  “Poor” and “sore” are similar sounding words, contributing to the mashup.  A big thanks to Elaine Hatfield for calling me out on this one.

People could be throwing risk to the wind

Jeremy Siegel, professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, expressed what he perceives as one of the biggest market risks in 2020, in an interview with Barron’s Group’s Market Brief, which aired on Monday. Here’s the whole sentence: “Actually, one of the dangers is that people could be throwing risk to the wind and this thing could be a runaway.” And here’s the source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/man-who-called-dow-20000-says-one-of-the-biggest-stock-market-dangers-in-2020-is-people-could-be-throwing-risk-to-the-wind-2020-01-06.  This is a nice mashup of “throwing caution to the wind” (abandon one’s cautiousness in order to take a risk) and “taking (or running) a risk” (do something with a high probability of a negative outcome).  A big thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one and sending it in.  #JeremySiegel

That ought to hit the ticket

This was said, referring to something that should be successful.  It is a congruent conflation of “hit the mark” and “punch (one’s) ticket”, both meaning an action that leads to success (the latter to a promotion usually).  Hit the ticket has a nice ring to it.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for texting this one and realizing it was a malaphor.

I know the material off the back of my hand

A daughter was telling her father about a recent test.  This is a mashup of “know it like the back of my hand” (extremely familiar with something) and “off the top of my head” (from memory without careful consideration).  Either this is a malaphor or maybe she actually had the materials written on her hand?  A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this one.

You put your finger on the nail

2020 has started off on the right foot, malaphor wise.   On New Year’s Day, Christiane Amanpour said this beauty on CNN’s “New Day”.   Let’s go to the transcript:


It is a congruent conflation of “put your finger on it” and hit the nail on the head” (and “nailed it”), all meaning to describe a situation or problem exactly.  The speaker might have been thinking of fingernails when she uttered this one.  A big thanks to Ruth Dilts for nailing this one. @camanpour @NewDay