I know where the skeletons are buried

This perfectly formed malaphor is found in the foreward to Michael Cohen’s soon to be released tell all book, “Disloyal”.  Here is the context:

“Trump has no true friends. He has lived his entire life avoiding and evading taking responsibility for his actions. He crushed or cheated all who stood in his way, but I know where the skeletons are buried because I was the one who buried them.”  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/michael-cohen-trump-disloyal-skeletons

This is a conflation of “know where (all) the bodies are buried” (to know secret or scandalous information about a person or group) and “have skeletons in (one’s) the closet” (to have damaging or incriminating secrets from one’s past).  Both idioms involve secrets and damaging information, and both involve dead bodies, hence the mixup.  This mashup is actually brilliant in that it incorporates damaging information and where to get the damaging information all in one terrific malaphor.

A big thanks to Mike Kovacs, Chief Malaphor Hunter, for spotting this one in plain sight.  Bravo.


He knows where all the skeletons are buried

This was uttered by a guest on MSNBC’s Live with David Gura on Saturday September 15.  It is a nice conflation of “skeletons in the closet” (embarrassing or shameful secrets) and “knows where all the bodies are buried” (know everything about someone, especially secret things that they might not want revealed).  Bodies become skeletons when buried and rotting in the ground; hence the mash up.  Also both expressions involve secrets.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and dishing it up.


That will bring some skeletons crawling out of the woodwork

This is a delightful mixture of “skeletons in the closet” (secrets) and “crawling out of the woodwork” (secrets coming out in the open).  The confusion lies in the two phrases referring to secrets and exposing them.   I heard this in a conversation but I cannot reveal the source as I was sworn to secrecy.  We can’t have these malaphors crawling out of the woodwork, can we?


Don’t air your dirty laundry in the closet

Certainly words of wisdom.  This is a mash up of “don’t air your dirty laundry” (don’t reveal secrets publicly), “out of the closet” (a secret revealed to the public) and “skeletons in the closet” (deep secrets one does not want revealed), all referring to secrets.  And of course dirty laundry often is collected in hampers in the closet so laundry and closet are word associations.   On the other hand, maybe the speaker was being literal and recommending that dirty laundry in a closet will eventually make your closet smell….doubtful.