It’s a collusion witch hoax

This one is self-evident – spoken by Trump to the press on March 8 after the Manafort sentencing.  This is a conflation of “witch hunt” (an attempt to blame and punish people who hold unpopular views and opinions, often under the guise of some other investigation) and “hoax” (to trick into believing as genuine something false).  Maybe it was used intentionally as shorthand talk, like “Tim Apple”.  A big thanks to Frank King for spotting this timely one.


That should give us a foot up

Overheard at a meeting.  It is a congruent conflation of “get a leg up”  and “a foot in the door”, both meaning to receive support or an advantage.  “Start off on the right foot” (to have a favorable or positive start) may also be in the mix.  I suppose getting a foot up is just a little advantage?  Kudos to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and passing it on.

It holds much weight

Jeremy Bash uttered this one the other night on the Malaphor channel, MSNBC.  It is a mashup of “carries much weight” (to wield importance or influence) and “holds water” (stands up to critical examination).  A subtle and commonly used malaphor.  Props to Frank King for hearing this one.

Tie the tea leaves together

.This was heard on NPR’s “Here and Now” show.  A pundit was talking about trying to predict what the Mueller investigation report will be like, based on all the information that has been released so far.  It is a mashup of “reading the tea leaves” (predicting on little bits of information) and “tie it all together” (finish it up neatly).  “Tie up loose ends” (resolve some issues at the end that are not critical) might also be in the mix.  Tea leaves seem to confuse folks.  Previous malaphors have included “reading between the tea leaves” and “read between the tea lines”  A tip of the hat to John Costello for hearing this one!

The Manafort situation throws the whole incentive system on its head

Columbia Law School professor Berit Berger uttered this one on the MSNBC show “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams”. She was discussing the pardon system and the Manafort case.  This is a mashup of “turn (something) on its head” (to alter something in an unexpected way) and “throw it out the window” (forgotten, disregarded).  “Turning” and “throwing” seems to have caused the mixup here.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one.


My hackles were ruffled

This was overheard at a nearby table at breakfast.  This is a brilliant congruent conflation of “ruffle (ones’) feathers” and “raise (one’s) hackles”, both meaning to make one irritated or angry.  “Ruffle” and “raise” both begin with the letter r, possibly contributing to the mix.  By the way, do you know what “hackles” are?  Hackles are the hairs on the back of an animal’s neck, which stick up when the animal feels fearful or angry (late 1800s).  So, the two expressions involve some type of body covering sticking up, a perfect explanation of the mashup.  A bravo to Sam Edelmann who heard this one all the way from India.

I’m worried stiff

Heard on the MSNBC show with Chris Hayes.  This is a conflation of “scared stiff” (utterly terrified) and “worried sick” (very concerned about a person or situation).  I have heard this one a lot.  “Sick” and “stiff” are similar sounding words, contributing to the mashup.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one!

If you liked this one, check out my book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”.  It’s available on Amazon for a cheap $7.99.  Just click on the link –