Was Dr. Fauci thinking of the America song, “Horse with No Name?” I don’t know, but this was uttered by Dr. Fauci at a Congressional hearing held this week. It is a perfectly formed congruent conflation of “no skin in the game” and “no horse in this race”, both expressions meaning when one is not invested in the outcome. A race is a game so this seems to be the reason for the mixup. Also, horseshoes is a game so that might have been on the speaker’s mind. But I would like to think he had an America ear worm that day and could not get the song out of his head. A big, big thanks to Steve Grieme, Yvonne Stam, and Rozsa Harris for all hearing this one and sending it in within hours of each other. A malaphor tidal wave.
Interesting visual. This malaphor was seen on Golf.com. It is a mix of “throw one’s hat in the ring” (indicate one is going to be a candidate) and I think “no horse in this race” (not invested or affected in the outcome of something). This is a true incongruent conflation, as the idioms have opposite meanings. “Workhorse” (a person who works tirelessly) may also have been in the mix as the writer was talking about professional golfers who are true workhorses. The writer may also have been thinking of horses in a circus going around a ring. A shout out to Larry Mason who spotted this one and sent it in.
This is a perfectly formed malaphor, combining similar meaning and sounding expressions. It was said in a meeting when asked to resolve a disagreement. It is a congruent conflation of “no horse in this race” and “no dog in this fight”, both meaning to not have an investment in the outcome of something. “No dog in this hunt” is another similar expression. Horses and dogs can get confusing, particularly when they are fighting. Speaking of horses, they are often the subject of malaphors. Why? Horses are used in many idioms, it seems. The Idiom Dictionary (part of the Free Dictionary) lists over 150 of them. If you type in “horse” on this website, you will find at least 10 malaphors involving horses, including such beauties (black?) as “I’m cursing like a race horse”, “Now that’s a horse of a different story”, “You can’t beat that with a dead horse”, and “Hold your horses on”. There must be a lot of naysayers out there. A big thanks to John Polk for hearing this one and passing it on! Check out John’s great Twitter feed- @Clichesgonewild.
Want to see more horse (and elephant) malaphors? Check out my book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors” available on Amazon for a mere 6.99!!