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It’s petering down

No, this was not said in an erectile dysfunction commercial, but rather by Heidi Przybyla on MSNBC’s Morning Joe the other day.  She was talking about the Mueller investigation.  It is a congruent conflation of “petering out” and “winding down”, both meaning to slowly come to a conclusion or end.  Another tip of the hat to Frank King for spotting this one.  He has the ears of a hawk.

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The President is using his bully pit to create questions on our elections

This gem was uttered by Maria Teresa Kumar on MSNBC’s Last Word on November 12, 2018.  Is it a malaphor?  I think it is a malaphor word blend of “bully pulpit” (a public position that allows a person to share his views with a large audience) and “pit bull” (an aggressive and tenacious person).  The latter defines the subject and the former was the intended idiom to be used.  A big thank you to James Kozlowski for hearing this one and sharing it.


Not to put too fine a brush on it

Heard on Morning Joe by Joe himself.  It is a mashup of “put too fine a point on it” (to belabor or exaggerate the importance of some point or detail), and “paint (something) with a broad brush” (describe something in general or vague terms).  Brushes can indeed be fine, hence the mixup.  A big thanks to Frank King for spotting yet another malaphor in the wilds of MSNBC.


She was threading that line in the Trump Administration

Kathleen Parker from the Washington Post uttered this one on MSNBC (the malaphor channel), talking about Nikki Haley.  It is a conflation of “toeing the line” (adhering to the rules of something) and “threading the needle” (pass something through a narrow space between two things).  Both idioms make sense in context, and perhaps Ms. Parker’s malaphor is really an economical way of expressing two ideas at once.  A big thanks to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and passing it on.


I want to thank you for giving me the down low

Alex Witt on MSNBC’s Live with Alex Witt uttered this on Saturday, October 13.  It is a nice mashup of “get the lowdown” (receiving specific facts or information on a situation) and “get the down and dirty” (receive uninhibited and direct news).  At first I thought he might have just inverted the phrase “the lowdown” but in context he was thinking of “down and dirty” as well.  A big thanks to Frank King who always gives the down low.


He knows where all the skeletons are buried

This was uttered by a guest on MSNBC’s Live with David Gura on Saturday September 15.  It is a nice conflation of “skeletons in the closet” (embarrassing or shameful secrets) and “knows where all the bodies are buried” (know everything about someone, especially secret things that they might not want revealed).  Bodies become skeletons when buried and rotting in the ground; hence the mash up.  Also both expressions involve secrets.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and dishing it up.


The cart’s out of the barn. You can’t put it back in the bottle.

This multi-faceted malaphor was uttered by Sam Stein, Politics Editor of The Daily Beast.  He was discussing Trump’s inadvertent confessions.  This is a three way malaphor, mashing up “the cat’s out of the bag” (the secret has been made known), “closing the barn door after the horse has bolted” (trying to prevent a problem after the damage has been done),  and “can’t put the genie back in the bottle” (can’t go back to the state you were in before an important change happened).  Cats and carts sound alike, contributing to the confusion.  All three idioms describe a situation where something has changed and it cannot be reversed.  So, all three are appropriate in context, but perhaps not jumbled together.  A big thanks to Ron MacDonald for hearing this gem.