This gem was uttered by Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) yesterday on Meet the Press, talking about the Trump impeachment inquiry. It is a mashup of “muddy the waters” (to make a situation less clear) and “gum up the works” (to interfere with the proper functioning of something). Both expressions refer to degrading something, and “works” and “waters” might have been jumbled by the phrase “water works”? A big shout out to Bruce Ryan who heard this one and passed it on. @jahimes @MeetThePress
You can hear this malaphor just about at the beginning of the video:
A TV host was interviewing an author, and commenting on the author’s successful book (on the NY Times bestseller list). This seems to be a mashup of “run away with” (win handily) and “off the charts” (spectacular). Both phrases refer to something or someone having success, hence the mixup in context. A big thanks to Verbatim for hearing this one and sending it in.
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This one was uttered by a witness in a trial. It is a conflation of “keep your eyes on the ball” (stay focused) and I think “put your shoulder to the wheel” (work hard, put an effort into something). Certainly one has to keep their eyes open when driving, but don’t stare at the wheel or you will be in big trouble. Perhaps the speaker was thinking “eyes on the prize”, and the big Wheel of Fortune bubbled up in his brain. Not sure. A big thanks to Tom Justice who heard this one and passed it on.
The speaker was talking about whether the EU would give England another extension on Brexit, and that more than likely an extension would be approved. This is a mashup of “kick the can down the road” (to postpone or defer a definitive action) and “kick the bucket” (to die). “Kick” is the common word here, and “cans” and “buckets” are similar objects which probably led to the mixup. I can’t help think that also the “ck” sound might have muddied the mental waters. A big thanks to Nate Shand for uttering this one and then allowing me to share it with the malaphor world.
This was heard on NPR’s Marketplace on 9/24. Vivian Ho, Director of the Center for Health and Biosciences at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, was talking about why retailers like Walmart are getting into the health care business. “…this is a way for them to get a piece of that slice….” This is an interesting one, as both phrases contain a word that the malaphor omits – “pie”. It is a congruent conflation of “getting a piece of the pie” and “getting a slice of the pie (or cake)”, both meaning to obtain a share of some benefit. Or maybe the speaker meant to get a really small share of something? Probably not, if it involves Walmart. You can hear the malaphor at 15:45:
A big thanks to David Barnes, who heard this one and shared a slice of the fun. @Marketplace @VivianHo
MSNBC commentator Yamiche Alcindor uttered this one when talking about the White House after Pelosi’s impeachment announcement. This is a near perfect congruent conflation of “backed into a corner” and “back to the wall”, both meaning to be in a high-pressure situation with no escape. “Back up” (to obstruct) might also be in the mix, given the recent news. A big thanks to David Stephens for hearing this one and passing it on!