This beauty was spoken by a confident attorney prior to a hearing. It is a congruent conflation of “on the fly” and “off the cuff”, both meaning to do something quickly and without thinking carefully before they do it. Mixing “on” and “off” is certainly a part of this malaphor, and perhaps “fly” and “cuff”, as both can be articles of clothing? Using “off” instead of “on” actually makes more sense as an airplane “flies off” to somewhere. “Fly off” means to go in a hurry, similar to the meaning of this malaphor. The speaker perhaps just inverted the words “fly” and “off”. A big thanks to Sam Edelmann for hearing his one and passing it along.
Megyn Kelly was talking about Trump’s encounter with Jorge Ramos:
KELLY: When he got up there, you know, in his speech, he was talking about how he thinks they should ban Teleprompters for these politicians. These presidential candidates which I think, you know, the President actually uses a teleprompter pretty much in most places he goes. But I don’t know that the candidates have been. But the point is, there is a realness to Donald Trump that is missing from so many of these other candidates. They do tend to sound rehearsed and stilted. He is never rehearsed. Obviously he shoots from the cuff and he says everything that comes to his mind which has gotten him in some trouble but I think helps him more than it hurts him. And people are very much connecting to that.
I have posted this malaphor earlier (see March 2014 entry) but it bears repeating, considering the timeliness of this excellent mixed idiom. Shoot from the cuff is a mash up of “shoot from the hip” and speaking “off the cuff”, both meaning to speak spontaneously and frankly. (Also see “shoot from the lip” in my Politics section). Thanks to Sandor Kovacs and Vicki Kovacs for both spotting this one!
This is a wonderful malaphor involving the phrases “off- the- cuff” (speak spontaneously without rehearsal) and “shooting from the hip” (speaking frankly). Phil Jackson, in deciding to take over the New York Knicks, uttered this malaphor at the beginning of his acceptance speech. Click on the link below and then click on the video in the link.. He says, in the opening sentence, that “I’m shooting from the cuff.” Thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and passing it on!
Phil Jackson shook hands with New York Knicks owner James Dolan, walked gingerly to the podium and comfortably lifted the microphones to fit his 6-foot-8 frame.
“I don’t have prepared remarks, as you can see,” Jackson said, practically bragging. “I’m shooting from the cuff.”
This is a congruent conflation of “off the top of my head” and “off the cuff”, both expressions meaning to speak without much thought or preparation. It is similar to the 9/16/12 post “he said it off the top of his cuff”. This malaphor came all the way from South Africa. An African National Congress (ANC) spokesperson during a radio interview, in avoiding difficult questions, responded with the opener: “Well, off the cuff of my head . . .” A shout out to Allan Muir for sending this one in!
This is one from “the master”, and it shows. Subtle and brilliant, it is a mash up of two similar meaning idioms – “off the cuff” (speaking spontaneously without rehearsal) and “off the top of his head” (saying something without thinking about it first). Combining these two idioms into one shows “the master’s” continued economical use of the English language.