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I can’t put my tongue on it

A girl was asked what gift she wanted for Christmas.  She couldn’t remember the name of the toy, and uttered this congruent conflation of “can’t put my finger on it” and “on the tip of my tongue”, both meaning something one can’t quite recall.   Fingers have tips so perhaps that is what led to the speaker’s confusion.  Or maybe she had watched too many reruns of the movie “A Christmas Story”.  A big thanks to Hannah Evanuik for overhearing this one!

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My old car shit the bucket

Maggie Acker uttered this beauty when talking about her car that stopped running.  It is a congruent conflation of “kicked the bucket” and “shit the bed”, both idioms referring to something or someone that died or failed.  “Shit the bed” is a relatively new idiom (I found it in the Wiktionary – https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shit_the_bed ).  It usually refers to something that breaks and can’t be repaired, like a cell phone.  Interestingly, in the U.K, it means to express surprise.  The mental mix up probably also was caused by the similar sounding words “kick” and “shit”.  A big, big thanks to John Fischer who heard this one and passed it on.


Negotiating with Trump is like trying to talk to Jello

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) uttered this gem on CNN January 4, 2019.  The context is regarding the recent Government shutdown over Trump’s proposed wall.  This is a conflation of “like talking to a wall” (a futile conversation because the other party is not listening) and “like nailing Jello to a wall” (a futile attempt at something).  Both idioms contain the word “wall” (appropriate in context, right?) and both concern something that is futile (a conversation or an attempt).   A hat tip to Tom Justice for hearing this one!


The guardrails are coming off

This one is from a CNN news story:  “The White House official who was in contact with CNN’s Brown said that with the impending departures of both Chief of Staff John Kelly and Mattis, there is a feeling that the guardrails are coming off. The official says “of course it’s crazy. Anyone looking at this has got to think there’s some craziness going on.”https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/22/politics/shutdown-mattis-whitaker-trump/index.htm
This is a congruent conflation of “off the rails” and “the wheels are coming off”,  both meaning a state of chaos or disorder.   The words “rails” and “wheels” were confused, probably due to the association of both of them (wheels on a railroad car).  Of course, if the guardrails are removed, a state of chaos would probably ensue.  A big thanks to Ron MacDonald for spotting this one.
  

A rose is a rose by any other name

This is a nice literary malaphor, uttered on the MSNBC show Hard Ball .  It is a congruent conflation of Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name” and  Gertrude Stein’s sentence “a rose is a rose is a rose”, both interpreted as meaning things are what they are.  A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for hearing this conflation of two famous lines in literature.


Trump is hunkering in

This was uttered by Elise Jordan on MSNBC, as she was describing Trump alone in the White House.  It is a congruent conflation of “digging in” and “hunkering down”, both meaning to get started in working on something or alternatively to seek refuge in a particular place.  A big thanks to Frank King for catching this one.


Whatever turns your boat

Overheard at a WalMart at midnight: two women were talking about another woman’s unusual outfit and one of them uttered this classic malaphor.  It is a congruent conflation of “whatever floats your boat” and “whatever turns you on”, both meaning whatever makes you happy.  The phrases both begin with “whatever”, and with boats capsizing, you can see where the confusion arises.  A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one while doing some midnight shopping.

If you enjoyed this one, and are thinking about how to fill that Christmas stocking, why not get the malaphor book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”?  It’s available on Amazon for a cheap 7.99.  Makes a great addition to any bathroom.