They’re walking on pins and needles

This nice malaphor was uttered by Robert Costa, national political reporter for the Washington Post and host of PBS’ “Washington Week in Review”.   He made this comment when describing White House staffers’ relationships with Jared Kushner.  It is a mash up of “walking on eggshells” (to be very diplomatic and inoffensive) and “on pins and needles” (to be anxious or in suspense).  This mixed idiom reminds me of those folks walking on nails or hot coals.  Perhaps that’s the feeling if you work at the White House.  It also reminds me of one of “The Master”s best efforts, describing a group of anxious federal employees: “they’re sitting on their hands and needles”.   A big thanks to Mike Kovacs, the “24/7 malaphor hunter”.


It popped eyebrows

Chris Cuomo on CNN made this comment regarding a controversial statement.  It is a nice mash up of “raised eyebrows”  (something causing concern or surprise) and “eye-popping” (something astonishing).   Perhaps Groucho Marx was on the speaker’s mind at the time.  A tip of the hat to Ron MacDonald for hearing this one and sending it along.

No one believes it to be true from any stretch of fact

This one was spoken by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.  “It’s a bad attempt at a joke; that’s all there is to it,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.  He was referring to his earlier statement that Trump may have been receiving payments from Putin.  You can read the entire context here in the New York Times article:
This is a mashup of “by no stretch of the imagination” (no possible or conceivable way) and “in fact” (in reality).   Of course, stretching facts seems to be in vogue these days.  Here at Malaphors Central we just report the facts, uh, tongue slips.  A big thanks to Jim Rectenwald for spotting this one!

Everybody takes it as whole cloth

This was uttered by President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, at the May 9, 2017 press conference.  He was responding to a question about James Clapper’s testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee involving Russian interference in the last US Presidential election.  Here is what he said:

MR. SPICER:  Sure, I mean, in the sense that I’m not going to question.  But I think the interesting thing is on all the other issues that he testifies about everybody takes it as whole cloth, that if he says anything he must — he was the DNI.  So when you guys want him to speak for the entire 17 agencies, you sort of assume that that’s what he’s doing.

Considering the context, this is a mash up of “cut out of whole cloth”, meaning completely fictional or utterly false, and “takes (something) as gospel”, meaning believing something that is undeniably true.  Mr. Spicer switched these, and thought I guess that “whole cloth” means it’s true.  I wonder how he would describe some of the President’s tweets?  Interestingly, the phrase “cut out of whole cloth” is a reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being “cut out of whole cloth,” when in reality, they were pieced together from different cuts.  A big thanks to that Malaphor Man on the Street Mike Kovacs!

Push the trigger

This one was said by Chris Matthews (“Hardball”) regarding Trump vs. Kim Jong-un, and what would cause one of them to react.  It’s a nice mashup of I think “have a finger on the button” (the person who controls nuclear weapons) and “pull the trigger” (commit to a certain course of action), given the context.  “Push the right button” or “push somebody’s buttons” (doing exactly  the right thing to get the result you want) might also be in the mix, as well as “press the panic button” (to overreact to a negative situation), again given the context.  “Push” and “pull” are the culprits here.  A big thanks to “My Ol’ Pal” (MOP) Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this and sending it in.  Readers of my book and followers of this blog might also know MOP as she has given much guidance to me on malaphor interpretations over the years.  I also dedicated my book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, (available on Amazon!) to her.

We didn’t want to just jam them out in a fire hose

This is another beauty from Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary.  At a news conference in response to a question about why President Trump has not undertaken all of the “day one” actions he had promised, Spicer replied that the administration did not want to “just jam them out in a fire hose.”

There is the dialogue: “Why not pursue all those on Day One, as he promised in a contract with the voters?”  Spicer said the Trump administration doesn’t want to “just jam them out in a fire hose.”

This is a mash up of “jam (something) down (someone’s) throat” (to compel someone to accept something) and  “drinking from a fire hose” (to be inundated by more of something than one is capable of handling).  A big thanks to David Barnes for catching this one and sending it in!



Trump’s comment about Megyn Kelly possibly a malaphor?

At the outset, this is not a political forum and I am not making any political statement.  I am merely suggesting that the Donald might have been confusing his idioms and so I am focusing solely on language here.

Here is the now famous comment:

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump said during an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Friday night. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”  He later said that he was suggesting that blood was coming out of Kelly’s ears and nose, indicating anger.

This may be a mix of “out for blood” and “looking daggers at me”, both indicating anger and both consistent with the context.  “Smoke coming out of her ears” might also have been in the subconscious, as that expression also describes someone angry, often depicted literally in cartoons.  This is probably a better explanation than his follow up regarding noses and ears, both not describing anger as far as I know (as an aside, since he said he “could see blood coming out..”,  the seemingly unanimous conclusion of “wherever” doesn’t seem to be consistent, since that is not something one “could see” in the way one might be able to “see” another person’s eyes).

I posted a Trump malaphor recently (see the July 21, 2015 malaphor – so he does jumble his expressions.