It’s all water in the bucket

This was heard at a meeting.  When the speaker was asked what he meant by that phrase, he said it was similar to the idea conveyed by the phrase “Every penny adds up””.   However, it appears to be a malaphor, mixing “water under the bridge” (a prior issue that is now resolved) and “It’s a drop in the bucket” (a very small or unimportant amount).  A tip of the hat to Raffi Tashjian for hearing this one and sending it in.


We got nothing but time under the bridge

This one was overheard at an administrative hearing.  It is a mash up of “nothing but (time)” (only; just) and “water under the bridge” (past and unchangeable events).  Perhaps the speaker was thinking of the song “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”:

I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Wastin’ time.

Or maybe “Under the Boardwalk”, where one just is “havin’ some fun”?  Or perhaps the speaker just likes to spend time under bridges.  We’ll never know.  A big thank you to Bill Belanger for hearing this one and sending it in!

That’s water over the bridge

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  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!




That’s water under the dam

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.

That’s just blood under the bridge

This is a mixture of “water under the bridge” (something that has happened that cannot be changed) and I think “blood in the water” (exhibition of weakness from another party in a competitive situation).   The speaker wanted to say water under the bridge but perhaps he was still very upset about an outcome he could not change (Karl Rove?).