I am going to take it by ear

This jumble was said by a friend’s daughter in response to a question as to when she would act on something.  It is a congruent conflation of “play it by ear”  and “take it as it comes”, both meaning to deal with a situation as it develops and without a plan.  The speaker might have been envisioning someone pulling another by the ear when she spoke.  “Take it on the chin” (receiving the full brunt of something) might also be in play, with chin and ears being body parts.  “Take it day by day” and/or “take it in stride” also might have been swirling around the brain.  A big thanks to Tina Kooser for hearing this one and John Kooser and Jody Compton for passing it along!

Let’s take each one by ear

Alison (check her blog at www.absolutely-write.co.uk ), a follower of this website, was drinking coffee in a neighborhood cafe, trying not to listen to the eager young man in a suit sitting behind her, who was talking loudly into his phone. As he was finishing up his conversation, he said “Yeah, well, let’s take each one by ear”.  She correctly noted that the speaker was probably muddling up “let’s take each one as it comes” and “let’s play it by ear”.   Thank you Alison for submitting this malaphor!