Senior Malaphor Hunter Mike Kovacs heard this one on NBC Dateline. He said the following when hearing the mash up: “Hearing it made me leap to grab my phone. (Actually, I didn’t really need to leap; it was within an arm’s length.) And you can quote me on that.” So I am. This malaphor is actually a very commonly spoken one. It is a congruent conflation of “water over the dam” and “water under the bridge”, both meaning to describe something that is over and done with, especially an unfortunate occurrence. The malaphor is very similar to a previous posting, “water under the dam” – see https://malaphors.com/2013/03/06/thats-water-under-the-dam/. Everyone seems to confuse these idioms, considering that one is under and the other is over, one involves dams and the other bridges, and both involve water. My picture doesn’t help matters…. A big thanks to Mike Kovacs for this one!
This is a commonly used malaphor, blending two idioms – “water under the bridge” and “water over the dam” – that contain the same word (water) and have the same meaning (past and unchangeable events). Add two words that both describe direction (over and under), and two structures that are in or over water (dams and bridges) and you get a subtle mix-up. I have posted a few similar malaphors – see “that’s water over the bridge” (8/4/12) and “that’s just blood under the bridge” (11/9/12). Many thanks to John Costello for this one.