Posted: January 30, 2018
This terrific malaphor was uttered both by former Senator Robert Torricelli and by Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC last week (1/24 at 9:11 am to be exact). They were both talking about the many interviews in Trump’s inner circle by the Mueller team and that those interviews are trying to rattle Trump’s tree. This is a congruent conflation of “shake (someone’s) tree” and”rattle (someone’s) cage”, both meaning to purposefully unnerve or upset someone. The speakers might have been thinking of the song “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” when they burped up this one. Or perhaps they were thinking of those giant mechanical devices that rattle almonds out of almond trees. Who knows what lurks in the mental crevices of one’s brain? A big thanks to the Comedian Frank King for hearing this one!
Posted: March 19, 2016
Another malaphor from the world of television. On a Dateline Internal Affairs episode, entitled Deadly Conspiracy, the Orange County Homicide Dept. wanted to do something to people involved in a murder conspiracy, so the chief detective Tom Dodds explained he wanted to “rattle the tree” and disturb their complacency. This is a mash up of “shake (someone’s) tree” (disturb or arouse someone to action) and “rattle (someone’s) cage” (to make someone angry on purpose). Both expressions involve annoying or disturbing someone, and the words “rattle” and “shake” are similar in meaning and often used together (e.g., shake, rattle and roll). A big thanks to “my ol’ pal” Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this one and passing it on!