This flips the tables

This was spotted in a Washington Post Op-Ed piece by Greg Sargent, discussing Biden’s plan to produce more jobs in the United States.  Here’s the excerpt:

Biden, by contrast, will do what Trump didn’t: Use active, interventionist government to actually create jobs and rebuild U.S. manufacturing capacity. While there’s no question the left deserves credit in pushing Biden in this direction, his broader agenda has proved unexpectedly progressive.

“This flips the tables,” Jared Bernstein, a progressive economist and outside adviser to the Biden campaign, told me. “It doesn’t just block incentives to send jobs overseas; it creates new ones to create jobs here.”

This is a congruent conflation of “turns the tables” and “flips the script”, both meaning to reverse or change something dramatically.  If Sargent had really meant to flip tables, he might have been tempted to use one of many emojis expressing this – see

A flip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for spotting this perfectly formed congruent conflation.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

The covid-19 thing has really thrown a wrench in us sideways

This one comes from the Washington Post.  It is a mashup of “throw a (monkey) wrench in the works” (to do something that prevents a plan from succeeding) and “knock (someone) sideways” (to upset, confuse, or shock).  Maybe “thrown (someone) for a loop” (to confuse or shock) is also in the mix.  The expression “throw a (monkey) wrench in the works” seems to be garbled a lot.  I have posted several malaphors involving the expression, including “throw another kink in the fire”, “a wrench had been thrown in the bucket”, and “he really threw a monkey wrench into that fire”.,,

Here’s the cite:

A tip of the hat to Barry Eigen who spotted this timely malaphor.

Trump’s window… is sinking

This nice malaphor was spotted in the PowerPost section of the Washington Post:


“– Trump’s window to score early legislative victories is sinking as Congress’s summer recess nears — giving the president just two months to revive his health-care and tax efforts before lawmakers depart Capitol Hill for a long break.”

Here’s the source:

It is a mashup of “a window of opportunity is closing” (a brief time period in which an opportunity exists) and “ship is sinking (or sinking ship)” (a failed or floundering organization or entity).  Sinking windows is never a good thing.  A big thank you to Barry Eigen for seeing this one and sending it in!

I’m afraid that he’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet

This gem was reported in the Washington Post.   A disillusioned Trump voter in Iowa was talking about Trump:

“He’s got a lot of controversial stuff going on and rather than thinking it through, I’m afraid that he’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet.”   This is a mashup of “out of the frying pan and into the fire” (from a bad situation to a worse situation) and “jump in with both feet” (to become involved quickly and completely).  “Jumping to conclusions” (to decide something without having all the facts) was also on the speaker’s mind, I think.  It is an excellent mixed idiom, as the two combined mean to get into a bad situation quickly, which is what the speaker I believe was thinking.  And the mental image of one jumping into a hot frying pan with both feet certainly would create a bad situation!  Kudos to Linda Bernstein and Barry Eigen for spotting this one and sending it in!

Republicans are on the horns of a bull in a china shop

This malaphor was written by Michael Gerson in a Washington Post column.

It is a nice mash up of “on the horns of a dilemma” (unable to decide between two things because either could bring bad results) and “bull in a china shop” (clumsily destructive).  Mr. Gerson was discussing how Republicans are in a difficult situation, where if they criticize Trump, they could receive massive retaliation.  While malaphors are usually unintentional slip ups, this one clearly was not.  A big thanks to Sam Edelmann for seeing this one and passing it on!


Some are riding the fence

This well-crafted mixed idiom appeared in the Washington Post.  The author, Callum Borchers, was discussing the issue of where Republicans who are seeking office stand on supporting Donald Trump.  “In future elections, Republicans seeking office will have to answer an important question: Where did you stand on Donald Trump?  Some seem acutely aware of this looming litmus test and are riding the fence.”

This is a mash up of “sitting on the fence” (not taking sides in a dispute) and “riding it out” (continue working through something unpleasant or dangerous).  The author might also have been thinking of “riding the pine” (in sports, to remain sitting on the bench), as it involves sitting.  In researching this curious malaphor, I found that the idiom actually is used in St. Maarten.  On that beautiful island, the airport is situated right off the beach. Tourists hold onto a fence as the planes take off and land just feet above them, hence the expression “riding the fence.”

A tip of the hat to frequent malaphor contributor John Costello for spotting this one and sending it on!

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