Introducing my new Malaphor book: “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”Posted: July 3, 2020
This unfortunately comes from a sad passage in an article about Covid-19 deaths, but it’s a malaphor nonetheless. Here’s the sentence: “And then things kind of petered off a little bit in those areas, and now we’re kind of seeing it getting closer and wondering when we’re gonna have to deal with this. But again, we’re preparing for it as best as we can in the hospitals that I’m working for.” This is a congruent conflation of “petered out” and “tapered off”, both meaning to diminish gradually and then stop. Here’s the link to the article: https://link.esquire.com/view/5976491c487ccd1f468b4eedc874i.3ql/6cadebe4
A special thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one, and for his wise counsel about not posting a descriptive picture of this malaphor.
The contributor’s mom said this one. It is a congruent conflation of “takes the cake” and “tops them all”, both meaning to win or be the most outstanding in some respect. My guess is that the speaker was also thinking of a cake topper. A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one from his Mom and sending it in.
A college student was tired of over thinking multiple choice test questions and said this malaphor. It is a nice mashup of “first impression” (opinion formed on first meeting someone) and “gut feeling” (an instinct or intuition about something). Both expressions involve immediate reactions to something, and are visceral in nature. Of course, a tight belt forms a first and second gut as well. A big thanks to John Kooser who heard this one and passed it on.
Martin Pietrucha, loyal malaphor follower, unintentionally uttered this one the other night while talking with his kids. It is a mashup of “sour grapes” (someone is angry or bitter because he has not gotten something that he wants) and “a bitter pill to swallow” (an unwanted situation that someone is forced to accept). “Sour” and “bitter” seem to be the culprits here, both are two of the five basic tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami). Also one swallows grapes as well as pills. A big thanks to Martin for sending this one in.
Helene Cooper, reporter for the New York Times, speaking about Joe Biden, uttered this nice one on Meet the Press. It’s an incongruent conflation of “the odds are in (someone’s) favor” (someone is likely to win) and “the deck (or cards) is stacked against (someone)” Ms. Cooper is a regular on this site, having uttered more than a few malaphors. A big thanks to Robert J. Smith for hearing this one and passing it on.
While I posted this one way back in 2012, it bears repeating as I think it is one of the purest congruent conflations out there, and a common one as well. The speaker was talking about her lack of sleep the previous night but that her husband slept soundly, describing him as being out like a log. This is a congruent conflation of “slept like a log” and “out like a light”, both referring to sound sleep. There are a lot of the letter L in both expressions, contributing to the mix up. A big thanks to Donna Calvert for sending this one in. Glad to hear Bill is sleeping well in retirement.
This malaphor was tweeted by former NFL player Brian Dawkins (safety for the Philadelphia Eagles):
This was heard at an administrative hearing. The speaker was talking about work that he was currently performing. It is a congruent conflation of “off the books” and “under the table”, both meaning to do something in secret so that taxes won’t be paid. Then again, maybe the speaker works in the basement of a library. A follow up question hopefully was made. A big thanks to John Costello for hearing this one.
If you liked this one, check out my book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available underneath on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205