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!
This was uttered regarding a customer situation and the speaker was trying to highlight the need to get valuable news to the customer. It is a mashup of “wipe the slate clean” (erase past mistakes) and “rip off the band-aid” (finish a task quickly to avoid a prolonged painful episode). Or maybe the speaker wanted to recycle a band-aid? A big thanks to John Hatfield III for hearing this one and sending it in.
Like this one? Then check out my book on malaphors, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon.
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: https://www.npr.org/2019/09/14/760780871/saturday-sports-horse-racing-antonio-brown.
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
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.