The straw that would tip me over to him

This one was spotted in a New York Times article, covering the Presidential race in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Here is the context and quote:

Chris Rutherford, 51, of Minneapolis, is leaning back in Mr. Trump’s direction as a result of recent unrest. A Republican who said he was dismayed by Mr. Trump’s “constant lying,” Mr. Rutherford said he had been deeply troubled by the damage to his community inflicted first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by episodes of vandalism and rioting.

“Covid is wiping out these businesses and this was the nail in the coffin,” Mr. Rutherford said, stressing, “We cannot have these riots.”

Mr. Rutherford said that while he slightly favored Mr. Trump, he might still support Mr. Biden if he did more to warn of repercussions for people who “grotesquely violate the law.”

“He says, ‘I condemn,’ but he doesn’t ever say what he’s going to do,” Mr. Rutherford said, adding that if Mr. Biden went further it would be “the straw that would tip me over to him.”

This is a mashup of “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, “the last straw”, (both meaning the final problem in a series that causes one to finally lose one’s patience) and “tip the scales (or balance)” (something that upsets the balance such that one side gains advantage).  It’s almost a congruent conflation, as all the expressions refer to an incident or something that finally changes the situation.  As the contributor points out, “straws” seem to pop up in malaphors frequently.  Past examples include “it was the nail that broke the camel’s back”, https://malaphors.com/2016/04/06/it-was-the-nail-that-broke-the-camels-back/, “the last straw in the coffin”, https://malaphors.com/2012/11/22/the-last-straw-in-the-coffin/, “I’m at the end of my straw”,  https://malaphors.com/2013/04/12/im-at-the-end-of-the-straw/, and “that’s a bit of a straw horse”, https://malaphors.com/2019/04/29/thats-a-bit-of-a-straw-horse-isnt-it/.  Even one of my all time favorites, “let’s draw hats”, has the ubiquitous straw floating in the speaker’s mind.  A big thank you to Barry Eigen for noticing this one and sending it in.

Still thinking about buying the latest malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”?  This latest malaphor might be the straw that tips you over.  Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

 


Michigan gave us Motang

This terrific word blend was uttered by our Malaphorer-in-Chief at a rally in Michigan:

During his rally in Freeland, Michigan, Trump told the packed and largely maskless crowd that “Michigan gave us Motang,” then added “Gave us Motown, gave us the Mustang.”

You can hear the clip here:  https://www.mediaite.com/news/watch-trump-tells-crowd-michigan-gave-us-motang-and-twitter-has-a-field-day/

It is of course a mashup of Motown and Mustang, two things that Trump said Michigan gave us.  Word blends are a subset of malaphors.  They 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 on my website are “Buckminster Palace” (Buckingham and Westminster, and/or possibly Buckminster Fuller) and “split-minute decision” (split second and last minute).  Word nerds might say these are portmanteaus, but a portmanteau is a combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word.

A big thank you to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in immediately.  It is actually getting quite a buzz on Twitter.


So to say

This subtle little malaphor was found in a Washington Post article:

“This is going to force Joe Biden to come out of the basement, so to say,” said Robert Graham, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman. “People don’t just want ‘content.’ They want to see him out there.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-to-resume-in-person-campaigning-as-race-with-trump-kicks-into-gear/2020/08/29/c2257ab4-e94a-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html

It is a congruent conflation of “so to speak” and “you might say”, both meaning to be said a certain way, even though the words are not exactly accurate.  Kudos to Bruce Ryan for spotting this one.


We’re really rounding the turn

Another trumpafor.  Trump uttered this one at a recent news conference, discussing the coronavirus.  Here is the text:

“We’re really rounding the turn. The vaccines are coming. The therapeutics have already come but they’re continuing to come,” Trump said of the coronavirus.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/515223-trump-maintains-us-rounding-the-turn-on-coronavirus

This is a congruent conflation of “rounding the corner”, “turning the corner”, and “rounding the bend”, all meaning to begin to find success after a troubling period.  A big thanks to Fred Martin and Sam Edelmann for both hearing this one.

Trump maintains US 'rounding the turn' on coronavirus | TheHill


You have to run the whole board

This mashup was uttered by Trump in a rally in Wisconsin a few weeks ago.  He was talking about the 2016 election, and the states he needed to win.  Here is the transcript (around 24 minutes into his speech):
It’s hard for Republicans. You have to run the whole board, because they started off that we’re going to play for New York. With all of the crime in New York, I got to play for New York, because we did well in New York. We did well in New York, but we’re going to play for New York.
https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-transcript-wisconsin-august-17
This is a congruent conflation of “run the table” and “across-the-board” (winning every game or opportunity).  The former expression comes from the game of pool and the latter is found in horse race betting.  Apparently Trump has used the phrase “run the table” correctly in the past.  See https://www.wsj.com/articles/running-the-table-from-pool-to-politics-1457106718
A big shout out to Frank King for hearing this one on the David Pakman Show.

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.


Both of their backs were up against a corner

Dylan Bank, director of the documentary “Get Me Roger Stone!” was interviewed on CNN about Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence.  Bank was saying that time was running out for both Trump and Stone as Stone was having to report to prison.  This nice malaphor was then uttered.  You can find it in the transcript here:

https://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2007/13/cnr.12.html

This is a near perfect congruent conflation of “backed into a corner” and “back to the wall”, both meaning to be in a high-pressure situation with no escape.  I did post this malaphor last year when Yamiche Alcindor, PBS journalist, said a similar mixup. https://malaphors.com/2019/09/27/they-have-their-backs-up-against-the-corner/?fbclid=IwAR1vaRUEYsSOIg1IFCxK4DGhZ8Uppno_D1ASi0_GlZKK6UyknvGo56EnL28  However, it was too good to pass when offered up a second time.  A big thanks to Steve Hubbard and Jim Kozlowski who both spotted this one and sent it in almost at the same time.


Trump coddles up to Putin

This one comes on the heels of my last malaphor, both uttered by Joe Biden in the same speech.  See https://malaphors.com/2020/07/13/the-chinese-are-spending-multiple-billions-of-dollars-trying-to-own-the-technology-of-the-future-while-we-sit-with-our-thumb-in-our-ear/

This one appears near the end of the speech.  Here is the text:

The only thing that can tear America part, and I mean this sincerely, no foreign country, not the way he coddles up to, well, I shouldn’t even get into this, but coddles up to Putin and others. They can’t tear us apart.

This is a mashup of “cuddle up to” (get close to, ingratiate) and “coddle” (treat tenderly).  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one on Morning Joe!


Trump’s going to eat him apart

Two people were overheard talking about upcoming the 2020 presidential debates between Trump and Joe Biden. One person said of Trump: “Trump’s going to eat him apart….”  This is a nice congruent conflation of “eat him alive” and “tear him apart”, both meaning to overwhelm and defeat or dominate another.  “Eat his lunch” might also be in the mix, as it has the same meaning as the conflated idioms.  My guess is that Biden might be a little tough to chew.  A big thank you to Verbatim for sending this one in!


He’s teetering a fragile line

Ginger Gibson, Reuters Political Correspondent on the NPR show A1, was talking about Trump’s recent actions relative to the Roger Stone sentencing.  This is a mashup of “teetering on the edge” (to be very close to a dangerous situation)  and “walking a fine line” (in a dangerous situation where you could easily make a mistake).  Both idioms involve dangerous situations, and “line” and “edge” are closely related.  Not sure where “fragile” fits in, but “fine” has a similar meaning to “fragile”, to wit – fine means “having or requiring an intricate delicacy of touch” as in ‘delicate’, ‘fragile’, ‘frail’,” etc .”  Here’s where you can hear a recording: at 7:25. https://the1a.org/segments/the-news-roundup-domestic-2020-014-02/  

By the way, this is Ms. Gibson’s second malaphor.  See  https://malaphors.com/2018/05/18/the-buck-stops-at-the-top/.

A tip of the hat to David Barnes for hearing this one.