Stormy McDaniels

Larry Noble, a campaign finance expert and former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, uttered this word blend on the PBS News Hour last night.  It is a mash up of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the two women who alleged to have affairs with Donald Trump before the 2016 election.  Malaphors can be word blends as well as idiom blends, such as this one or Buckminster Palace, a blend of Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace (with perhaps a dash of Buckminster Fuller).

President Donald Trump listens as Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

It’s a powerhorse

Bill Goldberg, host of the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” uttered this word blend malaphor when describing a particular sword.  This is a congruent conflation of “powerhouse” and “workhorse”, both describing a person or thing having great energy or strength.

Word blends are a subset of malaphors.  They are an unintentional blending of two or more words.  If you type word blend in the search engine on this blog or go to the index and scroll down to Word Blends you will see the many word blends I have posted.  Some examples are “Buckminster Abbey” (Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey and maybe Buckminster Fuller), and “blinched” (flinched and blinked).  The word blend malaphor is different than the portmanteau.  A portmanteau is an intentional blend of two words to create a new word with its own definition.  An example is smog (fog and smoke).  Word blend malaphors are simply mixed up words with no separate definition and are said unintentionally.  I hope you enjoyed my wordplay lesson of the day.

A big thank you to Anthony Kovacs for hearing this word blend and sending it in.



The speaker meant to say “package” but this came out.  It is  a nice word blend malaphor  of “box” and “package”.  Since most packages in the mail now come in boxes, thanks to Amazon and the internet, “bockage” was eventually going to be spit out by someone.   And really, isn’t it a nice word?  Sounds like the lord of the manor pronouncing “package”.  Also could be used when there are delays in shipping:  “Sorry, we have a bockage right now”.   A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha who accidentally blurted this one out and shared it immediately!

If you like this word blend check out my book on malaphors entitled “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon.  Just click this link:  There’s a whole chapter devoted to word blends, which are not portmanteaus, by the way (explanation in the book!).

They are ramroading this through the legislature

This is an excellent word blend congruent conflation of “ramrodding”  and “railroading”, both meaning to force passage or acceptance of something, such as a law or bill.   This mental mix up stems from two words that sound very similar and with the same meaning.  Perhaps “ramroading” is a really BIG effort to push a bill through the legislature!

As I have stated in previous blog posts, the word blend is a special kind of malaphor, not to be confused with a portmanteau.  The portmanteau is a combination of two words intentionally to create a new word, such as “smog”, which is a blend of “fog” and “smoke”.  A word blend is an unintentional mix of two words, creating a malaphor.  My favorite example is “Buckminster Palace”, a blend of Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace (with maybe Buckminster Fuller thrown in for good measure).  By the way, if you google that one you come up with multiple hits, making it a popular malaphor.

A big thanks to Andy Manatos for hearing this one and passing it on!

Did you like this word blend?  I have a whole chapter devoted to these mental hiccups in my book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon now!  Ramroad a friend to get one today!

I have a quandrum

A spin on MLK’s famous speech?  No, but a pretty good word blend,  combining “quandary” (dilemma) and “conundrum” (a puzzle).  As I have explained in previous posts, single word malaphors are different than portmanteaus.  A portmanteau is an intentional blending of two words to form a new word with a specific meaning, such as “smog” (a blend of smoke and fog).  A single word malaphor is an unintentional blending of two words to create a new word that is incorrect, such as “Buckminster Palace” (Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace), or a “faceover” (makeover and facelift).  Interestingly, Quandrum is the name of a Belgian Ale brewed by the Barrel of Monks brewery located in Boca Raton, Florida.  It is described as a “quadraphonic Belgian style quadrupel aged several months in rum barrels”.   Cheers!   A big shout out to Tiffany G. for hearing this one and passing it on!

Want to know more about single word malaphors?  Buy my book, He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors.  An entire chapter is devoted to these little gems.  Available now on Amazon at



Malaphors are not just idiom blends, but can be word blends as well (if you click on the category Word Blends you will find the ones I have posted).  This word blend was uttered by Sarah Palin in her speech endorsing Donald Trump for President.  She uses it in this context:

“And you quit footing the bill for these nations who are oil-rich, we’re paying for some of their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries. Where they’re fighting each other and yelling ‘Allahu akbar,’ calling jihad on each other’s heads forever and ever. Like I’ve said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out.”

It is a mash up of “squirm” (to wriggle the body from side to side) and “skirmish” (a brief fight between small groups).  While one might argue that this is actually a portmanteau, I would disagree.  A portmanteau is an intentional combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word, such as smog (smoke and fog).  A word blend malaphor is unintentional (I believe Ms. Palin did not mean to say “squirmish”) and it does not create a new word that means something (I don’t think).  Kudos to John Costello for finding this one and passing it on!

We’re in a f***ing stagmire

Long Term Parking

Long Term Parking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a word blend malaphor (see my discussion of word blends in the 2/2/13 post, Portmanteaus and Single Word Malaphors) of quagmire and stagnant.   This now famous malaphor was spoken by Little Carmine in perhaps the best episode of The Sopranos – Season 5’s Long Term Parking episode.  Little Carmine is a fountain of malaprops and malaphors, making him one of the more humorous characters in the series.


Portmanteaus and single word malaphors

English: Illustration to the poem Jabberwocky....

English: Illustration to the poem Jabberwocky. A work by English illustrator Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914). First published in Carroll, Lewis. 1871. Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you can see from the subject line, I am not delivering a malaphor of the day.  I thought I would sprinkle a few hopefully interesting discussions about malaphors and other wordplay issues on my blog.

Someone asked me if my word blend malaphors are actually portmanteaus. I don’t think so. The main difference is that a portmanteau is an intentional word blend while a malaphor is unintentional.  There are other differences:

A portmanteau is a combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word. A portmanteau word generally combines both sounds and meanings, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog. More generally, it may refer to any term or phrase that combines two or more meanings, for instance, the term “wurly” when describing hair that is both wavy and curly.

The word “portmanteau” was first used in this context by Lewis Carroll in the book Through the Looking-Glass (1871), in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky, where “slithy” means “lithe and slimy” and “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable”. Humpty Dumpty explains the practice of combining words in various ways by telling Alice,

‘You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.’

My single word blend malaphors are unconscious blends of words to make an unintentional new word. The word sounds or looks correct at first blush, but then on closer examination is incorrect. Examples so far on my website are “Buckminster Palace” (Buckingham and Westminster, and/or possibly Buckminster Fuller) and “split-minute decision” (split second and last minute).

Sitting on their hands and needles

One of my all time favorites, this little ditty was spoken by “the master” in response to a group of employees’ anxiety awaiting the announcement of several promotions.  Why is this a thing of beauty?  He mixes “sitting on their hands” (procrastinating or delaying) with “on pins and needles” (anxiously awaiting an outcome), which simultaneously describes the employees’ jobs (sedentary as they were paralegals) with their emotional state.  This compression of two phrases into a better phrase reminds my “ol pal” of Lewis Carroll’s use of “Portmanteau words” where two words are mashed together to form a new & better word like “chortle” (chuckle & snort) or “frumuous” (fuming & furious).