She’s the last person on the totem pole

The speaker was saying how his wife would be last to be called back to work because she’s a recent hire, and that “she’s the last person on the totem pole”.  This is a mashup of “low man on the totem pole” (person with the least amount of experience in a social or business setting) and “be the last (person) to (do something)” (very unlikely to do something).  Regarding the phrase, “low man on the totem pole”, there is an interesting explanation found in the Free Dictionary:
The humorist H. Allen Smith used this phrase as the title of a book (1941) after the radio comedian Fred Allen had used the term to describe him in an introduction to an earlier book.  The position on an actual totem pole bu the way, has no such signficiance.  Nevertheless, the term caught on quickly enough to become a cliche.
A big thanks to Sam Edelmann who overheard this one and passed it on.
Don’t be the last person on the totem pole to get my latest malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory:  Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”.  It’s available now on Amazon in paperback or kindle.  Let me tell you, it’s a real page burner!  Here’s the link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Introducing my new Malaphor book: “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”

Instead of a Friday malaphor, I am unabashedly promoting my new malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors from Politicians and Pundits”.  It is available on Amazon NOW for a cheap $8.99! Click on the link below.
Every bathroom library deserves this gem.  And what better way to celebrate America’s birthday than ordering this patriotic look at idiom mashups?  Even the cover is red, white, and blue!
Special thanks to Cheryl Rosato again for her fantastic illustrations that make the book so special. Also special thanks to Karen Michener MacDonald and Ron MacDonald from Step2branding.com for the terrific design of the book. And thanks to the many followers who contributed to the malaphors contained in this edition, and who are thanked at the end of the book.

Things kind of petered off

This unfortunately comes from a sad passage in an article about Covid-19 deaths, but it’s a malaphor nonetheless. Here’s the sentence: “And then things kind of petered off a little bit in those areas, and now we’re kind of seeing it getting closer and wondering when we’re gonna have to deal with this. But again, we’re preparing for it as best as we can in the hospitals that I’m working for.” This is a congruent conflation of “petered out” and “tapered off”, both meaning to diminish gradually and then stop.   Here’s the link to the article: https://link.esquire.com/view/5976491c487ccd1f468b4eedc874i.3ql/6cadebe4

A special thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one, and for his wise counsel about not posting a descriptive picture of this malaphor.

 


It’s nerve curdling

Rachel Maddow said this one on her show on April 30, referring to the Covid-19 outbreak in Nebraska.  It’s a mashup of “blood-curdling” (causing terror or horror) and “nerve-racking” (something stressful or anxiety-inducing).   I suppose nerves could curdle when alarmed or stressed out.   A big thanks to Frank King who heard this one and passed it on. @maddow
If you liked this Rachel malaphor, you will be happy to hear that I am about to publish my second malaphor book that has a whole section devoted to Maddow Malaphors.  The book is a compilation of malaphors from politicians and pundits.  It’s the top of the cake!  Be on the lookout on this website for the release date!

That tops the cake

The contributor’s mom said this one.  It is a congruent conflation of “takes the cake”  and “tops them all”, both meaning to win or be the most outstanding in some respect.  My guess is that the speaker was also thinking of a cake topper.  A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one from his Mom and sending it in.


I’m going to go with my first gut

A college student was tired of over thinking multiple choice test questions and said this malaphor.  It is a nice mashup of “first impression” (opinion formed on first meeting someone) and “gut feeling” (an instinct or intuition about something).  Both expressions involve immediate reactions to something, and are visceral in nature.  Of course, a tight belt forms a first and second gut as well.  A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one and passed it on.


Those are bitter grapes to swallow

Martin Pietrucha, loyal malaphor follower, unintentionally uttered this one the other night while talking with his kids.  It is a mashup of “sour grapes” (someone is angry or bitter because he has not gotten something that he wants) and “a bitter pill to swallow” (an unwanted situation that someone is forced to accept).  “Sour” and “bitter” seem to be the culprits here, both are two of the five basic tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami).  Also one swallows grapes as well as pills.  A big thanks to Martin for sending this one in.


All the stacks are in his favor

Helene Cooper, reporter for the New York Times, speaking about Joe Biden, uttered this nice one on Meet the Press.  It’s an incongruent conflation of “the odds are in (someone’s) favor” (someone is likely to win) and “the deck (or cards) is stacked against (someone)”  Ms. Cooper is a regular on this site, having uttered more than a few malaphors.  A big thanks to Robert J. Smith for hearing this one and passing it on.


You were out like a log

While I posted this one way back in 2012, it bears repeating as I think it is one of the purest congruent conflations out there, and a common one as well.  The speaker was talking about her lack of sleep the previous night but that her husband slept soundly, describing him as being out like a log.  This is a congruent conflation of “slept like a log” and “out like a light”, both referring to sound sleep.  There are a lot of the letter L in both expressions, contributing to the mix up.  A big thanks to Donna Calvert for sending this one in.  Glad to hear Bill is sleeping well in retirement.


Congratulations Coach Reid! You finally got the hump off of your back

This malaphor was tweeted by former NFL player Brian Dawkins (safety for the Philadelphia Eagles):

@BrianDawkins
CONGRATULATIONS COACH REID!! You finally got the hump off of your back. You have been a blessing to so many of us as a Coach yes, but also as a man. You’ve learned & given so much to so many… You Earned it!! LOVE YOU!!! #BigRed #SuperBowlChampion
This is a congruent conflation of “over the hump” and “monkey off (one’s) back”, both meaning to get over a persistent problem.  The speaker may have been thinking of a “hump back”, or perhaps a “hunchback”, but I don’t recall Coach Reid with one.  When I received this malaphor, I immediately thought of Igor (Marty Feldman) from the movie Young Frankenstein who deliberately swapped which side the hump on his back was located, saying, “What hump?”  A big thanks to Jim Kozlowski, loyal Eagles fan, for spotting this gem.