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It’s on a slippery scale

This one was uttered on the t.v. show The View.  The contributor was sitting in a doctor’s office and heard it on the t.v. that was above her head.  This is a nice mashup of “slippery slope” (a behavior or action will lead to a worse form of the same behavior or action) and “sliding scale” (a system in which the rate at which something is paid changes as a result of other condition).  “Slopes” and “scales” are six letter words starting with s and sound somewhat similar, which I think is the cause of this malaphor.  Both phrases also describe something that changes as a result of another action.  A big thanks to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this one and passing it on.  She has the ears of a hawk!

 

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We’re going to leave nothing uncovered

This one comes from Donald Trump, explaining how he’s going to thoroughly investigate the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.  It is a great mash up of “leave no stone unturned” (to look for something in every possible place) and “leave nothing to chance” (to allow nothing to be settled by chance) or perhaps also “uncover the truth.” The added bonus here is that his mash up manages to mean exactly the opposite of what he intended.

Here is the link: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/15/politics/trump-saudi-king-tweet/index.html?fbclid=IwAR0oO6TcAWywTPU6JF2RHzKe-sT4Om1yrgqoQe3HHCvX73Xayfp44icHKSI

A big thanks to David Barnes for spotting this one and sending it in.


Not to put too fine a brush on it

Heard on Morning Joe by Joe himself.  It is a mashup of “put too fine a point on it” (to belabor or exaggerate the importance of some point or detail), and “paint (something) with a broad brush” (describe something in general or vague terms).  Brushes can indeed be fine, hence the mixup.  A big thanks to Frank King for spotting yet another malaphor in the wilds of MSNBC.


He’s barking up the wrong horse

This one was almost uttered and then held back, apparently realizing it was wrong.  It is a nice mashup of “barking up the wrong tree” (to attempt a futile course of action) and “backing the wrong horse” (to support a person in an effort that fails).  Both phrases involve failure, and “barking” and “backing” sound and look similar, hence the mix up.  Also, the word “wrong” is in each idiom, contributing to the mental hiccup.  As I have posted previously, idioms involving horses for some reason are frequently mixed up, causing malaphors.  Go to the Malaphors web page and search “horse”.  You will find a treasure trove of malaphors.  As Kramer would say, “Giddyup!”  A big thanks to John Kooser for almost belching out this one.


She was threading that line in the Trump Administration

Kathleen Parker from the Washington Post uttered this one on MSNBC (the malaphor channel), talking about Nikki Haley.  It is a conflation of “toeing the line” (adhering to the rules of something) and “threading the needle” (pass something through a narrow space between two things).  Both idioms make sense in context, and perhaps Ms. Parker’s malaphor is really an economical way of expressing two ideas at once.  A big thanks to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and passing it on.


I want to thank you for giving me the down low

Alex Witt on MSNBC’s Live with Alex Witt uttered this on Saturday, October 13.  It is a nice mashup of “get the lowdown” (receiving specific facts or information on a situation) and “get the down and dirty” (receive uninhibited and direct news).  At first I thought he might have just inverted the phrase “the lowdown” but in context he was thinking of “down and dirty” as well.  A big thanks to Frank King who always gives the down low.


We can break history

This is one of my favorites.  Donald Trump Jr. uttered this one when discussing the upcoming midterm elections.  He told ABC news, “So our people, the MAGA people, they have to turn out. They have to get out and vote. And I think we can break history.” https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-jr-father-trusts-smaller-group-aides-white/story?id=57735562

This is a mash up of “make history” (to do something historically significant) and I think “break a record” (to do something at a higher or greater degree than the greatest extent currently known).  Both expressions refer to achieving something never before achieved so it is close to a congruent conflation.  “Break with tradition” (to do something in a new way) might also be in the mix.  I am tempted to say “break wind” (to expel gas, fart) was also on the speaker’s mind but that is just a guess.  A big thanks to Jack Chandler for spotting this gem.