Building a case that will withstand muster

Attorney Gerald Griggs said this one on the MSNBC show, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.  It is a mashup of “pass master” (satisfactory) and “withstand scrutiny” (something successful even after review).  This is a subtle one for sure.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and passing it on!


He cleared muster

“The Master” strikes again.  Chris Matthews uttered this beauty on the Rachel Maddow show on July 9, 2018, referring to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  It is a congruent conflation of “passed muster” and “cleared for approval”, both meaning to be accepted as adequate.  Pass/clear is the mixup here.  Anyone who visits this site regularly knows Mr. Matthews is a malaphor goldmine.   A big thanks to “Eagle-Ear” Frank King, the Mental Health Comedian, for hearing this one and sending it in.

If he doesn’t pass the mustard, then we aren’t promoting him

Sharing must be a really big deal at this company.  I understand not passing ketchup is grounds for dismissal. Actually, this gem was uttered when discussing an internal candidate who applied for a promotion: “We can interview him, but if he doesn’t pass the mustard, then we aren’t promoting him.”  This is a congruent conflation of “cut the mustard” and “pass muster”, both meaning to perform satisfactorily. At first this just appeared to be a malaprop (misusing a word, generally similar in sound) – mustard for muster – but on closer inspection it indeed is a mash up of two idioms, hence a very nice malaphor.  A big thanks to Tiffany G. for hearing this one and passing it (and the condiment) on!

Did you like this one?  I sure did, and you can find a ton of other fun malaphors just like this one in my latest book, He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors, available on Amazon at!