This malaphor is a mash up of “getting paid under the table” (money paid secretly and illegally) and perhaps “out of pocket” (lacking money) because it refers to money. However, there might be other idioms at play here. “Lining one’s own pockets” might be in the mix, as it means making money for oneself in a greedy or dishonest fashion. Certainly money under the table is taken dishonestly. “Money burns a hole in one’s pocket” could also be in the speaker’s mind, as it refers to someone who spends money as soon as it is earned. Then there is “pocket money” (cash for incidental expenses) again referring to finances. Actually, there are a lot of phrases involving pockets that refer to money. The speaker might also have been thinking of a game of pool, which involves a table and pockets. And that gets me to the phrase “pocket pool”, which I will refrain from defining as this is a G rated website (at least sometimes). Kudos to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in!
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Don Woodall, an old friend of mine, received an email that closed with the sentence “I am out of pocket until 3:30”. He contacted me, indicating that “out of pocket” normally means paid from personal funds or money lost in a transaction, but that the speaker meant “unavailable” or “out of communication”. While this is more of a misused expression, it does mix out of touch with out of pocket. Interestingly, Don points out that the Urban Dictionary says over the past half year or so, “out of pocket” has become a new business catchphrase meaning. So, considering the upcoming holiday, Malaphors will be out of pocket until Monday! Thanks to Don Woodall for this one!
MaryKathryn strikes again. Here is her story: “I was having a conversation with my husband about a particular client. I told him I was concerned about running up this particular client’s legal bill and told him we should not charge him for some work we had done. He gave me “the look” as I call it and I said, ‘yes, I know, it is like taking food out of our pocket.’ Once again the discussion ended in my husband laughing at me.”
This gem is a mash up of being “out of pocket” (have less money than you should have) and “taking bread from someone’s mouth” (depriving someone of his livelihood). She may also have been thinking of songs from Oliver, including “Food, Glorious, Food”, and “You’ve Got To Pick a Pocket or Two”. Well done, MaryKathryn!