You have to run the whole board

This mashup was uttered by Trump in a rally in Wisconsin a few weeks ago.  He was talking about the 2016 election, and the states he needed to win.  Here is the transcript (around 24 minutes into his speech):
It’s hard for Republicans. You have to run the whole board, because they started off that we’re going to play for New York. With all of the crime in New York, I got to play for New York, because we did well in New York. We did well in New York, but we’re going to play for New York.
https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-transcript-wisconsin-august-17
This is a congruent conflation of “run the table” and “across-the-board” (winning every game or opportunity).  The former expression comes from the game of pool and the latter is found in horse race betting.  Apparently Trump has used the phrase “run the table” correctly in the past.  See https://www.wsj.com/articles/running-the-table-from-pool-to-politics-1457106718
A big shout out to Frank King for hearing this one on the David Pakman Show.

That hits home like a ton of bricks

Michael Steele, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and political pundit, said this one on Nicole Wallace’s show, Deadline: White House.  Mr. Steele was talking about the Jason Blake shooting and his experience as a father talking to his sons about what to do if stopped by police.  This is a congruent conflation of “hits home” and “hit (one) like a ton of bricks”, both expressions meaning to receive information that has a sudden or signifcant impact on one.  A big thank you to Mike Kovacs for hearing this subtle and neatly formed malaphor and sending it in.

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They’re going to leave it all on the table; they’re going to put it all on the court.

This is a rare double malaphor spoken by Van Jones on the Anderson Cooper show 360 degrees.  Here is the excerpt from the CNN transcript:

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think they’re going to leave it all on the table. They’re going to put it all on the court. Look, I think if you are Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, to sit here — I mean, if you think we feel heartbroken, terrified and just, you know, miserable about what’s going on, imagine how they feel.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2008/16/acd.02.html

The first malaphor, “leave it all on the table”, is a congruent conflation of “leave it all on the field” and “leave nothing on the table”, both meaning to give something 100% or everything you have. The second, “put it all on the court”, is a mashup of “leave it all on the court” (give something 100%) and put it all on the line” (risk everything for something).  Mixing sports idioms with politics is a risky business, and Mr. Jones realized he had uttered a malaphor, but his quick attempt made him step into malaphor doo doo once more.  This unicorn was spotted by Bruce Ryan, and for that he is now elevated into the Malaphor Hall of Fame.  @VanJones68

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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.


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 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.”

https://www.axios.com/spontaneous-entrepreneurship-amid-the-coronavirus-crisis-04266f01-e79a-4eb4-9564-5f01a417d8b9.html

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


The Chinese are spending multiple billions of dollars trying to own the technology of the future while we sit with our thumb in our ear

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden uttered this one in his speech last week in Dunmore, PA.  I believe this is a body part mashup of “close your ears (to something)” or “fingers in your ears” (ignore something) and “have (one’s) thumb up (one’s) ass” (not doing what you should be doing).   Not sure this one was on the teleprompter.  If not, perhaps Joe changed his mind mid- phrase when he was about to utter the word “ass”.   You can find the quote here:  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/09/joe-biden-economic-plan-355416

A big thanks to Fred Martin and Beatrice Zablocki for both catching this one live and sending a quick email to me.  I have a feeling that the next few months will bring an abundance of malaphors.  Keep your eyes and ears peeled!


We stemmed that curve

This is another “curve” malaphor brought to you by Frank King.  His last one was “we turned the curve”, heard on the MSNBC show “All In with Chris Hayes.  https://malaphors.com/2020/07/01/we-turned-the-curve/
This one was also heard on the same show, this time from Harris County (Texas) Judge Lina Hidalgo.  It is a congruent conflation of  “stem the tide” and “flatten the curve”, both meaning to stop the course of a trend or tendency.  You can hear this one on the Monday night, July 6, 2020 show.  It does not seem that the malaphor curve will ever be stemmed.  Another tip of the hat to Frank King for hearing this one.
Please do not stem the curve of the rising sales of my latest malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory”: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits.”  It’s available NOW on Amazon. Click this link to purchase:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

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.
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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.