This is another from Naomi David. She was talking about someone changing her opinion. This is a congruent conflation of “change (one’s) tune” and “flipped”, both meaning to change or reverse course, or change sides in a controversy. “Flipped the script” (make a total reversal or radical change) might also have been on the speaker’s mind (a shout out to Verbatim for noting this). In this current political climate, she may have been thinking of states “flipping” from red to blue or vice versa. A big thanks to Naomi and to Katie Norwood for hearing this one and passing it on.
If you follow this website, you will know the name of Naomi David, dubbed “The Queen of Malaphors”. Oops, she did it again and uttered this gem, which is a congruent conflation of “wearing many hats” and “juggling/keeping balls in the air”, both meaning to hold many responsibilities at the same time. Since she was talking to Katie Hatfield Norwood, “hats” might have been on her mind.
Did you know hat spinning is a thing? In the final years of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, hat spinning was a fairly standard and common form of juggling. Today this art form is performed by perhaps as few as two or three jugglers in the entire world. For those who have never seen it, hat spinning can perhaps be best described as a cross between plate spinning and devil stick, with a flimsy, broad-brimmed hat being manipulated by one or two long sticks held in the juggler’s hands. https://www.juggle.org/hat-spinning-history-instruction-and-performers/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20best%20known,art%20form%20was%20Walter%20Bellonini.&text=Other%20early%20jugglers%20who%20performed,least%20as%20early%20as%201875.
A big thanks to Naomi David and Katie Norwood for this one.
There was a conversation about a person who got intimate with someone related to her boss. This is a nice conflation of “sleep around” (to engage in sex with many different partners) and “don’t shit where you eat” (do not engage in troublesome or dubious behavior at home or at work). A big thanks to Doree Simon for spotting this one and sending it in!
Fun fact: Eating while asleep is a disorder. It’s called sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) and is a type of parasomnia (sleep disorder) characterized by abnormal eating patterns during the night. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/12123-sleep-related-eating-disorders#:~:text=People%20with%20sleep%2Drelated%20eating,the%20night%20with%20full%20awareness.
Bill Maher said this one on his show last week, referring to Nate Silver’s analysis of the election and why people should listen to him. It is a mashup of “crunch the numbers” (performs numerous calculations) and “crack the code” (solve a difficult problem or mystery). “Crunching” and “cracking” are both similar sounding words (lots of onomatopoeia going on here), contributing to the merry mixup. A code usually involves numbers, so that might have been swirling in the speaker’s brain at the time. Another tip of the crack to Mike Kovacs who heard this one.
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.
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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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.
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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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.
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.
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.”
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.