This one has to be read in context. On the December 10, 2018 “On Point” NPR podcast, a person was discussing self-driving cars. “I felt safer sitting in the back seat of that driver-less vehicle than I did sitting behind the driver’s seat of my own car’. https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510053/on-point
This is a mashup of “in the driver’s seat” and “behind the wheel”, both meaning to take charge. The speaker wasn’t thinking of either idiom, but was certainly confusing his words. If you are in the back seat of one car, how is that different than being behind the driver’s seat of the other car? A big thanks to Alan “Moose” Richardson for hearing this one.
Tom Merritt of APR’s Marketplace on NPR Morning Edition, Daily Tech News uttered this one. One of the criteria for a malaphor is that it is unintentionally said; a mental mishap so to speak. However, I have made an exception with this one as it is very clever. It appears Mr. Merritt was saying this intentionally, as he was talking about Facebook policing its advertising, and whether the latest transparency move was significant. They don’t want to talk about it; they’re being forced to talk about it. We don’t have a clear way of knowing whether our privacy is being protected..
It is a mashup of “canary in a coal mine” (early warning of possible adverse conditions or danger), “the 800 pound gorilla” (a person or group so powerful it does not need to heed to the rules) and “the elephant in the room” (a problem that everyone is aware but choose to ignore and not mention). Elephants, gorillas, and canaries all in one phrase! A huge thanks to Sally Adler for hearing this one and passing it on!
This beauty was uttered on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. The discussion centered around sexual harassment, and what Human Resources divisions should do about it. The speaker said, “Anybody worth their weight in salt would take allegations of sexual harassment seriously”. This is a mashup of “worth one’s weight in gold” (very valuable, useful, or important) and “worth one’s salt” (deserving respect, especially because you do your job well). This malaphor is a great one as the two expressions are very similar in sound and in meaning. The word “weight” is the only distinguishing factor. Regarding the salt idiom, it is believed that it refers to the fact that in Roman times soldiers were given an allowance of salt as part of their pay. The Latin word salarium (= the money given to Roman soldiers to buy salt) is the origin of the word ‘salary’. A big thanks to loyal malaphor follower Paul Nance for hearing this one and sharing it.
Had to post this one immediately. Today on NPR’s “Morning Edition” Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), responding to a question about him refusing to act on Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, implied the Democrats would do the same thing “If the shoe was turned”. This is a wonderful congruent conflation of “if the tables were turned” and “if the shoe was on the other foot”, both meaning to experience or cause the opposite situation. See also the link: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/orrin-hatch-merrick-garland-democrats-220914. A big thank you to Paula Garrety for hearing this gem and passing it along!
Elephants and gorillas don’t mix, yet this malaphor is an exception. This was heard on the NPR show “to the Best of Our Knowledge”. Charles Monroe Cain was interviewing former navy pilot and drone developer Missy Cummings from Duke. He asked her about “the 800 pound elephant in the room.” This is a conflation of “the 800 pound gorilla (dominant force that cannot be ignored) and “the elephant in the room” (a truth that cannot be ignored). Bottom line is that you can’t ignore a gorilla OR an elephant. This elephant mix up thing seems pretty common – see prior postings on pink elephants and white elephants. A trumpeting thank you to eagle eared malaphor hunter Yvonne Stam for sending this one in!