I published a similar malaphor a few years ago – “It’s been a long road to hoe” https://malaphors.com/2013/04/25/its-been-a-long-road-to-hoe/, and received recently yet another similar one from Gary Kelly – “”We’re going to have a hard road to tow”. At first these might seem more like malaprops, with the word “road” substituting for “row”, but I think they are actually malaphors. “A difficult road” and “a long road” have the same meaning as the intended phrase “it’s a difficult row to hoe”, so idioms have been confused.
This malaphor was spoken by Nina Easton on a Fox News Special Report, April 18, 2016, commenting on the challenges facing tax reform. A big thanks to Jim Clees for hearing this one and passing it on!
This mixed idiom is similar to “long road to hoe”, posted April 25, 2013. The phrases in this malaphor include “long road”, “tough row to hoe”, and “a mountain to climb”, all meaning tough or difficult situations. John Costello heard this on the HBO series True Detective, episode 5. Marty is trying to get back with Maggie. Maggie says “you have a long road to climb.” Of course, if you lived in or visited Pittsburgh or San Francisco, you might hear this one used literally. Thanks to John Costello for this one.