People don’t want to live on eggshells

This was heard in an administrative hearing.  It is a conflation of “walking on eggshells” (to act with great care so as not to upset someone) and I think “live in a glass house” (be susceptible to judgment or criticism).  Eggshells and glass are both very fragile, and I think the speaker was thinking of both.  “Living on the edge” (doing something daring or bold) might also be in the mix, with an eggshell (Humpty-Dumpty?) sitting on the edge of a wall.  Any other thoughts?  A big thanks to Sam Edelmann who heard this one and passed it on.


Dancing on eggs

The new malaphor “Master” Chris Matthews, just described a delicate verbal situation as “dancing on eggs.”  This is a beautiful mashup of “walking on eggshells” (to act with great care not to upset someone) and “(tap) dancing around” (evade a question).  Both phrases involve careful speaking hence the mixup.  Also walking and dancing are similar actions, contributing to the malaphor.  Malaphor hunters will witness a goldmine of malaphors by listening to this guy.  I am in awe.  A  big thanks to Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this one and passing it on

I’m walking on eggs and needles when he’s around

This descriptive malaphor was uttered by a housemate in college, referring to the submitter.  It is a nice mixture of “walking on eggshells” (to act with great care as to not upset anyone) and “on pins and needles” (anxious).  Both phrases involve anxiety or nervousness and also contain the preposition “on”, adding to the confusion.  Certainly the speaker was not “walking on sunshine”.  This malaphor reminds me of an oldie but goodie posted awhile ago about nervous employees waiting for a promotion announcement:  “They were sitting on their hands and needles.”  Also this one:,  A shout out to Stanley Dubinsky who shared this one.

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”.

They’re walking on tenterhooks

This one is from Rush Limbaugh’s lips.  He was referring to the precarious position of the Republicans who can’t seem to get anything accomplished.  This is a mash up of the idioms “on tenterhooks” (in a state of painful suspense) and “walking on eggshells” (to try very hard not to upset someone or something).  Incidentally, the expression “on tenterhooks” refers to hooks that formerly were used to hold newly woven cloth that was being stretched on a frame. Their name has long survived this mid 1700s method of manufacture.  A big thanks to Jack Chandler for hearing this one and passing it along!

Did you know Rush Limbaugh is the source for more than a few malaphors?  Check them out in my book “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”, available on Amazon for a cheap $6.99!  That’s less than 7 dollars!

I’m walking on ice with you

Sounds like a song title, but it actually is a malaphor.  The speaker meant to say eggshells instead of ice, and wound up mixing the phrases “walking on eggshells” (try very hard not to upset someone) and “walking (or skating) on thin ice”” (risky situation).  The mix up is probably due to ice and eggshells both being easily breakable.  Also, if you don’t walk on eggshells with a person who is upset you might be skating on thin ice!  A big thank you to Paula Fow for sending this one in.


Walking on Thin Ice