My boss is breathing down my throat

This was overheard in a conversation.  It is a mash up of “breathing down my neck” (closely monitor someone) and “Jump down someone’s throat” (strongly disagree or criticize someone) , with the common word “down” perhaps being the culprit for the conflation.  Throats and necks are also situated in the same location so the speaker may have their anatomical parts mixed up.  “At each other’s throats” (said of two people who are noticeable angry with each other).  might also be in the mix.  Certainly this boss closely monitors a little too closely, don’t you think?  A shout out to Emily Klingel for hearing this one and passing it on!


I think Sheila hit the head

Nela Richardson, Ph.D, chief economist for Redfin, speaking on the podcast Marketplace, was referring to a point made by her colleague on the correlation on the lack of wage growth and persistent complaints by some employers that they’re unable to fill open positions.  This is a nice congruent conflation of “hit the mark” and “hit the nail on the head”, both meaning to be accurate or correct.  As the submitter points out, “hit the head” is a also a naval expression for going to the bathroom.  Having grown up on Naval bases, I used and still use that expression often.  Not sure Dr. Robinson had the same experience, but if so, it could be the reason for her mashup.  A tip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one!

Crazy as a three dollar bill

This one was uttered by J.C. Watts on the MTP (Meet the Press) Daily show on MSNBC.  It is a nice mash up of “crazy as a loon” (insane) and “phony (or queer) as a three dollar bill” (bogus).

I suppose a three dollar bill is pretty crazy, but those loons definitely are the craziest.  Of course, pileated woodpeckers sound daffy as well.  A big thanks to Chief Malaphor Hunter (CMH) Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and immediately recording it.


Trump has been under a lot of heat

This timely malaphor was uttered by Joy Reid on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.  She was talking about Trump’s remarks about police not being so careful when loading suspects into the Paddy Wagon.  It is a congruent conflation of “under a lot of stress” and “feeling the heat”, both meaning feeling pressure.  A big thanks to the comedian Frank King for hearing this one!

We’re starting from scratch one

This was uttered while making a second attempt at lugging a couch down a set of stairs.  It’s a congruent conflation of “back to square one” and “starting from scratch” both meaning a starting place or at the beginning.   These phrases seem to be a continual source of confusion.  For example, I’ve posted “back to square zero” and “starting from ground one”  Both confuse the many phrases that describe a new beginning or starting over.  While a square is certainly not a zero, the mind might be mixing them.  One and zero are both numbers, and scratch and square are both similar in sound.  A tip of the hat to John Kooser for muttering this one and passing it on!

It fell through the loops

This was uttered at a meeting.  It is a mash up of “fell through the cracks” (to be not noticed or dealt with) and “throw somebody for a loop” (to upset someone unexpectedly).  The reason I think the latter is involved is the speaker might have thought “threw” when he uttered  the homonym “through”, thus completing the phrase with “loops” instead of “cracks”.   The mind does play tricks like that sometimes.  I would be interested in others’ thoughts on the mix up.   A big thanks to Elaine Hatfield for hearing this one!

You can catch more flies with honey than a stick

These are certainly words to live by, I guess.   This is a mash up of “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” (it is easier to get what you want by flattery or being polite than by being demanding) and I think “carrot and stick (approach)”  (rewards and punishments that influence someone’s behavior).  The carrots and honey both represent something that is pleasing or rewarding to them, hence the confusion.   Also, not sure many people know or say “with vinegar” in the proverb “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, so the stick was the substitute in this case.  A big thanks to Joseph Newcomer for hearing this one and sending it in.