Kathleen Parker from the Washington Post uttered this one on MSNBC (the malaphor channel), talking about Nikki Haley. It is a conflation of “toeing the line” (adhering to the rules of something) and “threading the needle” (pass something through a narrow space between two things). Both idioms make sense in context, and perhaps Ms. Parker’s malaphor is really an economical way of expressing two ideas at once. A big thanks to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and passing it on.
The election is over, but the malaphors continue to flood in. This one was heard on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. Discussing Kelly Ayotte’s (R-NH) response to the question of Donald Trump being a role model, James Pindell of the Boston Globe uttered this gem. It is a congruent conflation of “walk a thin (fine) line” and “thread the needle”, both meaning to skillfully navigate through a tough dilemma. “Toe the line” might also be in the mix, with the speaker thinking toes do the walking. A big thanks to Sally Adler for hearing this one and sending it in!
This gem was overheard on MSNBC. Correspondent Katy Tur was commenting on the Republican National Committee (RNC) walking a tight rope with respect to Donald Trump, and ended by uttering this malaphor. It is a congruent conflation of “thread the needle” and “walk a fine line”, both meaning to strike a balance between conflicting or different forces. Perhaps she was thinking of threading a fishing line? A big thank you to Louis Mande for hearing this one and passing it along.