We’re seeing them close the wagons

This one was spoken by ESPN’s Michele Steele on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.  She was discussing the horse racing drug scandal involving the Kentucky Derby winner, Justify.  Here’s the transcript:

This is a nice congruent conflation of “closing ranks” and “circling the wagons”, both meaning to become defensive.  A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and striking malaphor gold! @ESPNMichele


The Democrat Party is literally groveling at the mouth

This one comes from the Daily Caller.   It is a mashup of “foaming at the mouth” (extremely angry) and “groveling in (something)” (to interact with someone in an overtly agreeable manner).  So did the writer mean that the Party was angry or overtly agreeable?  My guess it was the former.  As an aside, this is also another example of using the word “literally” incorrectly.  If it’s literal, then it happens.  A big thanks to Ralph Aikman for spotting this one.

They are not out of the clear

James Joseph, senior FEMA administrator, on CNN, told people in Florida not to ignore warnings and think themselves safe from the effects of the oncoming hurricane Dorian.  It’s a congruent conflation of “out of the woods” and “in the clear”, both meaning to be free of danger.  Perhaps the speaker was thinking of a clearing in the woods.  “Out of danger”, also meaning to be free of danger, might also be in the mix.  A big thanks to “my ol’ pal”  Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this one.

I’m biting at the dust

The speaker was nervously anticipating something.  This is a three-fer mashup I think.  “Champing at the bit” and “biting my nails” both meaning to anxiously await something, are clearly in the mix, and also “bites the dust” (to die) is in there.  Perhaps the anticipation was so exciting that she thought she was going to die?  In any event, a big thanks to Katie Mroczek for uttering this one and sending it on, with the help of Anthony Kovacs.

Let’s put this horse to bed

The speaker and his co-worker were talking about a situation that they didn’t need to talk about anymore. In order to signal it was time to wrap things up the speaker said “Let’s put this horse to bed.”  This is a nice congruent conflation of “put (something) to bed” and “put a horse out to pasture”, meaning to finish or retire something.  Perhaps the speaker dredged up in his mind the Godfather scene with the horse head in bed.  That certainly finalized things.  A big thanks to Joel for actually unintentionally uttering this one and sending it in.

The President is having to deal with a den of vipers

This one was uttered by an evangelical Trump supporter.  It is a congruent conflation of “a nest of vipers” and “a den of thieves”, both meaning a group of individuals suspected of underhanded dealings.  “Den of iniquity” (a lot of immoral things happen there) might be in the mix, but I doubt it.  “Waliking into the lions’ den” (place yourself in a dangerous situation) certainly is in play given the context and its Biblical roots.  Here is the article where the malaphor is found:

A big thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one!

I’m going to hang low at home today

The speaker was not feeling well and uttered this nice mixup.  It is a conflation of “hang out” (to engage in some some frivolous time wasting) and “lay low” (to be hidden or inconspicuous).  “Feeling low” (feeling ill or sad) is probably also in the mix, considering the context.   A big thanks to David Barnes for hearing this one and passing it on.