Skip to the chase

This one comes courtesy of the classic movie, “Best in Show”.  The Jane Lynch character is talking about how her poodle will easily win and that the Judges should just “skip to the chase” and give her the trophy.  This is a mashup of “skip it” (ignore the matter) and “cut to the chase” (get to the point; get on with it).  As the Christopher Guest mockumentaries were largely ad-libbed, my guess is that this malaphor was not intentionally written.  A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one and sent it in.

Why don't we skip to the chase here, and just give me the cup.

Knock you back on your socks

Chuck Todd on MSNBC was describing Democratic strategist worries about certain voter registration numbers.  This is a congruent conflation of “knock your socks off” and “set (one) back on (one’s) heels” , both meaning to put one in a state of surprise.  A big thanks to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in!

The genie is out of the box

This is a nice bookend to another malaphor recently posted, “the genie is out of the bag” –  It is also similar to “we can’t put the genie back in the box”, another malaphor posted on this site.  “The genie is out of the box” was uttered on CNN recently and also appears in an Axios article:

“We think the model has long-term viability,” says Barbieri. “The next California wildfire or earthquake or hurricane… now that the genie is out of the box, it’s never going back.”

It is a mash up of “the genie is out of the bottle” (something has been done that cannot be changed) and “opening Pandora’s box” (doing something that causes a lot of unexpected problems).  Both involve mythical creatures that cause trouble.  Also, opening Pandora’s box has a similar meaning to letting the genie out of the bottle.  Both are impossible to close once opened.  I also think the mix up is caused by the containers themselves – getting things from boxes and bottles.  It’s possible a jack-in-the-box was also on the speaker/writer’s mind.  A tip of the hat to Ginny Justice who heard this one and passed it on.

genie in a box

To see things from other people’s shoes

This mashup was spotted on Facebook.  Here is the post:

This is a congruent conflation of “through the eyes of (someone)” and “walk (stand) in (someone’s) shoes”, both meaning to consider another’s perspective, experience, or motivation.  “See things from another angle” might also be in the mix.  Then again, a pair of nice, shiny patent leather shoes could literally help you do this.  A big thanks to Grant Shipley for spotting this and Yvonne Stam for sending it in.


Now we’re up against the cliff

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was discussing the coronavirus relief package legislation and noting the Republicans’ non-response.  He then uttered this nice mashup of “against the clock” (a shortage of time being the main problem) and “fall off a cliff” (suddently become less successful).  “Up against the wall” (in great difficulty) might also be in the mix, but given the context of time running out, “against the clock” is probably what the speaker had in mind.  Also, “clock” and “cliff” sound similar.  I think “cliffhanger” (situation where the outcome is suspenseful or uncertain) must have been on Schumer’s mind as well.  Here is the context:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, noting that he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans to come to the table three weeks ago but neverreceived a response.“Nothing, now we’re up against the cliff.”

Kudos to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and immediately reporting it to Malaphor Central.

On your back heels

Ali Velshi, subbing for Rachel Maddow on her show, uttered this one.  It is a mashup of “set back on (one’s) heels” (surprise or shock) and “on your back foot” ( in a position of disadvantage, retreat).  Another tip of the hat to Frank King for hearing this one.

If you like this pundit malaphor, check out my latest book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”, available on Amazon now.  Just click here to get your book:  Don’t be on your back heels; get one today!

Use your indoor words

A mom was overheard saying to her rambunctious child, who was over-excited and talking too loudly in public: “use your indoor words.”  This is a mashup of “use your words” (tell me with words what you want, rather than whining and crying) and “use your indoor voice” (speak more quietly).  “Use your” is the common denominator here, and the cause of the mixup.  A big thanks to Verbatim for passing this one along!

Both of their backs were up against a corner

Dylan Bank, director of the documentary “Get Me Roger Stone!” was interviewed on CNN about Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence.  Bank was saying that time was running out for both Trump and Stone as Stone was having to report to prison.  This nice malaphor was then uttered.  You can find it in the transcript here:

This is a near perfect congruent conflation of “backed into a corner” and “back to the wall”, both meaning to be in a high-pressure situation with no escape.  I did post this malaphor last year when Yamiche Alcindor, PBS journalist, said a similar mixup.  However, it was too good to pass when offered up a second time.  A big thanks to Steve Hubbard and Jim Kozlowski who both spotted this one and sent it in almost at the same time.

That’s a big fish to swallow

The speaker meant to say “a bitter pill to swallow” (an unwanted or unpleasant situation that someone is forced to accept) but apparently had fish on his mind.  This is a mashup of “a bitter pill to swallow” and “big fish in a small pond” (a person who is important in a limited arena).  Fish do get swallowed up by other fish and they do swallow hooks, so these pictures might have been on the speaker’s mind as well.  Or maybe he was thinking of the classic movie, “Big Fish”.  A shout out to Sandor Kovacs for hearing this one and Mike Kovacs for reporting (and saying) it.  

The Chinese are spending multiple billions of dollars trying to own the technology of the future while we sit with our thumb in our ear

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden uttered this one in his speech last week in Dunmore, PA.  I believe this is a body part mashup of “close your ears (to something)” or “fingers in your ears” (ignore something) and “have (one’s) thumb up (one’s) ass” (not doing what you should be doing).   Not sure this one was on the teleprompter.  If not, perhaps Joe changed his mind mid- phrase when he was about to utter the word “ass”.   You can find the quote here:

A big thanks to Fred Martin and Beatrice Zablocki for both catching this one live and sending a quick email to me.  I have a feeling that the next few months will bring an abundance of malaphors.  Keep your eyes and ears peeled!