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He’s laid down a line

Harry Litman was discussing Trump on MSNBC and uttered this nice malaphor.  It is a mash up of “lay down the law” (give an order or directive) and “draw a line” (to set a boundary). “Lay”, “line”, and “law” all seem to be part of the scramble here.  Mr. Litman has been the subject of a previous malaphor (“take no quarter”  https://malaphors.com/2018/04/13/take-no-quarter/) and was very good natured about it.  A true Pittsburgher, full of grace!  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.
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They want to take me to bat

During an interview on MSNBC on Sunday, 9/9/18, Omarosa Manigault Newman uttered this mix up.  It is a mash up of “take me to task (scold or reprimand) and I believe, given the context, “bat for the other team” (to support, secretly or openly, the opposing side of a given contest or debate).  “Bat around” (hit something around) might also be in the mix, again given the context.  A big thanks to Bob Smith for hearing this one and sending it in.

 


The cart’s out of the barn. You can’t put it back in the bottle.

This multi-faceted malaphor was uttered by Sam Stein, Politics Editor of The Daily Beast.  He was discussing Trump’s inadvertent confessions.  This is a three way malaphor, mashing up “the cat’s out of the bag” (the secret has been made known), “closing the barn door after the horse has bolted” (trying to prevent a problem after the damage has been done),  and “can’t put the genie back in the bottle” (can’t go back to the state you were in before an important change happened).  Cats and carts sound alike, contributing to the confusion.  All three idioms describe a situation where something has changed and it cannot be reversed.  So, all three are appropriate in context, but perhaps not jumbled together.  A big thanks to Ron MacDonald for hearing this gem.


lumps in the ointment

Rachel Maddow said this one when she was describing Don McGahn’s cooperation with the Special Counsel in an effort to avoid John Dean’s fate. Basically she was saying that McGahn was not the apparent hero he seems because of his apparently selfless cooperation, and that there were a few “lumps in the ointment.”  This is a mashup of “lumps in the gravy” (problems or stumbling blocks) and “fly in the ointment” (flaw that detracts from something positive) l  up of Lumps in the gravy, flies in the ointment.  “Take (one’s) lumps” (to accept the punishment one deserves) might also be in the mix (or should I say gravy?).  And then again, maybe Rachel was thinking of Frank Zappa…..

A big thanks to “my ol’ pal” Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this one and sending it in!


They don’t want to count their chickens before they roost

Zerlina Maxwell on MSNBC’s “Live with Katie Tur” uttered this beauty when she was talking about Democrats avoiding calls for impeaching Trump.  This is a barnyard mashup of “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” (don’t make future plans before they happen) and “chickens come home to roost” (you have to face the consequences of your mistakes).  “Chickens” of course are the culprit here, contributing to the mental yolk.  These  fowl phrases seem to get mixed up a lot  – see “Never count your eggs before they hatch (July 9, 2012 post) , and “Might the roosters be guarding the henhouse?” (August 2, 2014 post).  I was eggcited when several people laid this one on me.  First was the ubiquitous Mike Kovacs, followed quickly by James Kozlowski and Bob Maxwell.  Malaphor spotters are everywhere it seems.

 


The fish stinks from the head

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) uttered this on the Chris Hayes show (Ali Velshi filling in) the other night, referring to Trump.  She said, “The Italians have an expression ‘the fish stinks from the head’.”  Well, actually, the expression is “the fish rots from the head down”, meaning bad leaders damage an organization, and her comment mixes the idiom  “stink to high heaven”, meaning to be or seem extremely corrupt or disreputable.  Rotting sure gives off a stink so it is understandable that the speaker got confused.  Another big thank you to Frank King, our MSNBC Malaphor Reporter.


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)