We pulled out all the strings

This was heard on the CBS tv show “The Greatest #AtHome Videos”.  Cedric the Entertainer teamed with Kristen Chenoweth to surprise a group of young performers.  One of the performers uttered this nice malaphor.  You can hear it here:  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=785249305547779

It is a mashup of “pull out all the stops” (to do someting with maximum effort or ability) and “pull the strings” (to be in control of events or some other people’s actions).  “Pulled on our heart strings” might also be in the mix.  “Pull” is the common denominator here, and “strings” and “stops” are also similar sounding words, adding to the confusion.  A big thanks to Lou Pugliese who heard this one and passed it on.

Broaden the tent

This subtle mixup was uttered on Steve Hilton’s show on Fox by The Mooch, Anthony Scaramucci, when discussing the current demographic base of the Republican Party.   https://www.foxnews.com/us/hilton-scaramucci-clash-over-presidential-politics-best-candidate

It is a congruent conflation of “broaden the base” and “make a bigger tent”, both meaning a group or movement that encompasses the broadest and most diverse members possible.  A big thanks to Frank King who sent this one in.


I know where the skeletons are buried

This perfectly formed malaphor is found in the foreward to Michael Cohen’s soon to be released tell all book, “Disloyal”.  Here is the context:

“Trump has no true friends. He has lived his entire life avoiding and evading taking responsibility for his actions. He crushed or cheated all who stood in his way, but I know where the skeletons are buried because I was the one who buried them.”  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/michael-cohen-trump-disloyal-skeletons

This is a conflation of “know where (all) the bodies are buried” (to know secret or scandalous information about a person or group) and “have skeletons in (one’s) the closet” (to have damaging or incriminating secrets from one’s past).  Both idioms involve secrets and damaging information, and both involve dead bodies, hence the mixup.  This mashup is actually brilliant in that it incorporates damaging information and where to get the damaging information all in one terrific malaphor.

A big thanks to Mike Kovacs, Chief Malaphor Hunter, for spotting this one in plain sight.  Bravo.

The disciples fell on their feet

A pastor was teaching on Psalm 76, noting that when Jesus was transfigured the disciples fell on their feet.  This is a conflation of “fall on (one’s) knees” (to kneel down as a show of respect) and “be swept off (one’s) feet” (to become very enamored with someone).  Both expressions involve admiration or awe of another.  Also the body parts “knees” and “feet” seem to be the source of the confusion here.  Of course, “fall on (one’s) feet” is an expression indicating one who is lucky or successful, and I suppose that is true in the disciples’ case.  However, I believe it is a malaphor given the context.  A big thanks to Steve Grieme who heard this one and passed it on!

$600 a week for Mitch McConnell is not a red line in the sand

This nice congruent conflation of “red line” and “line in the sand”, both meaning the furthest limit of what will be tolerated, was uttered by Kasie Hunt on MSNBC last week (Craig Melvin hosting).  “Line” appears in both idioms, which is probably the root of the confusion.  Ms. Hunt is probably too young to remember the song, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, so it probably does not enter the mix.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.

If you liked this political pundit malaphor, you will LOVE my new book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory:  Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”, available now on Amazon!  Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

It’s like throwing a wrench in a china shop

This one was heard on a podcast discussing the volatile nature of today’s political environment.  It is a conflation of “throw a (monkey) wrench in(to) the works” (to disrupt or cause problems) and “like a bull in a china shop” (to be aggressive or clumsy in a situation that requires care and delicacy).  As the submitter says, both phrases cause chaos.  Certainly throwing a wrench in a china shop will cause damage much like that of a bull.  A tip of the hat to Verbatim for hearing this one and sharing it.

Did you enjoy this malaphor?  If so, check out my new book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory:  Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits, available on Amazon today!  Here’s the link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

I don’t have any horse in the game

Was Dr. Fauci thinking of the America song, “Horse with No Name?”  I don’t know, but this was uttered by Dr. Fauci at a Congressional hearing held this week.  It is a perfectly formed congruent conflation of “no skin in the game” and “no horse in this race”, both expressions meaning when one is not invested in the outcome.  A race is a game so this seems to be the reason for the mixup.  Also, horseshoes is a game so that might have been on the speaker’s mind.  But I would like to think he had an America ear worm that day and could not get the song out of his head.  A big, big thanks to Steve Grieme, Yvonne Stam, and Rozsa Harris for all hearing this one and sending it in within hours of each other.  A malaphor tidal wave.

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” – https://malaphors.com/2020/06/17/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.  https://malaphors.com/2016/04/11/we-cant-put-the-genie-back-in-the-box/.  “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