Over the rails

ABC’s Martha Raddatz reporting on the upcoming Biden-Putin summit: “if they can come out together, if it doesn’t go out over the rails, that is some sign of success”. This is a congruent conflation of “off the rails” and “over the edge” both meaning to be out of control or excessive. A big thank you to Steve Grieme for hearing this one!


Straight off the hip

This is a rare “tri-form” malaphor uttered by Jonah Johnston in the show, “7 Little Johnstons”. Jonah was talking about the sports podcast he and his two friends started. Here’s the clip:

This is a triple mashup, consisting of “straight from the heart” (with deep sincerity), “right off the bat” (immediately), and “shoot from the hip” (to speak rashly without considering the consequences). “Straight off the bat” is a valid idiom (see Free Dictionary), but I submit an uncommon one and probably not in the speaker’s mind. The above three seem to be swirling around in Jonah’s brain. A huge thank you to Mike Kovacs for hearing this unicorn.


They’re talking out of both sides of their neck

Ronald Greene’s attorney was talking about the Louisiana police and a cover up on MSNBC’s Velshi show when he uttered this malaphor. It’s a mashup of “talking through the back of (one’s) neck” (exaggerate, often to the point of making false statements) and “talking out of both sides of (one’s) mouth” (maintain contradictory positions in an attempt to please the most people). This conflation combines the meanings of both idioms into one new one. A big thanks to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one.


Lifesend

This excellent word blend malaphor was spotted in a New York Times interview of Bernie Sanders. Here’s the context:

“But in this legislation, let us be clear we have gotten for a family of four — a working-class family struggling to put food on the table for their kids — a check of $5,600. Now people who have money may not think that’s a lot of money. But when you are struggling day and night to pay the bills, to worry about eviction, that is going to be a lifesend for millions and millions of people.”

This is a congruent conflation of “godsend” and “lifesaver”, both referring to a very helpful or valuable event, person, or thing. As I have noted in past posts, malaphors are usually unintentional idiom blends, but they can also be an unintentional blend of two or more words. I have many examples in my first book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and Other Malaphors”, available on Amazon.

Someone asked me if my word blend malaphors are actually portmanteaus. I don’t think so. The main difference is that a portmanteau is an intentional word blend while a malaphor is unintentional.  There are other differences:

A portmanteau is a combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word. A portmanteau word generally combines both sounds and meanings, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog. More generally, it may refer to any term or phrase that combines two or more meanings, for instance, the term “wurly” when describing hair that is both wavy and curly.

The word “portmanteau” was first used in this context by Lewis Carroll in the book Through the Looking-Glass (1871), in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky, where “slithy” means “lithe and slimy” and “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable”. Humpty Dumpty explains the practice of combining words in various ways by telling Alice,

‘You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.’

My single word blend malaphors are unconscious blends of words to make an unintentional new word. The word sounds or looks correct at first blush, but then on closer examination is incorrect. Examples include “Buckminster Palace” (Buckingham and Westminster, and/or possibly Buckminster Fuller) “split-minute decision” (split second and last minute), and the one submitted today, lifesend.

A big thank you to Ann Hodges Lynn for spotting this one and sending it in!


This is the first step in the water

Salt Lake City mayor Erin Mendenhall was describing the reopening of the public libraries and uttered this nice malaphor. It is a conflation of “the first step” (first in a series of actions), “the first step is always the hardest” (starting is the most difficult part of any task) and “dip a toe in the water” (to tentatively begin a new experience). Steps and toes go together and so does this nice mashup. A big thanks to Kathy Shand for hearing this one and sending it in!


It’s all peaches and roses

Retired Los Angeles Police Homicide Detective Greg Kading uttered this one on Season 1, Episode 1 of the Netflix series Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. It’s a nice congruent conflation of “peaches and cream” and “a bed of roses”, both describing an easy, comfortable situation. This one is reminiscent of an earlier post, “four more years of fun and roses”. https://malaphors.com/2020/10/23/four-more-years-of-fun-and-roses/

A big thank you to Vicki and Mike Kovacs for sending this one in.


That ship has flown

The speaker was playing an online board game and made a comment about how it was too late for anyone else to win the game. She then uttered this nice malaphor. It is a mashup of “that ship has sailed” (some possiblity ot option is no longer available or likely) and “fly the coop” (to leave or escape (something)). This one is similar to the Austin Powers’ malaphor I posted a few years ago: “That train has sailed.” https://malaphors.com/2015/11/13/that-train-has-sailed/ Transportation mixups.

A tip of the hat to Andy Jacobs for hearing this one and passing it on! Thank you Andy!


It was earth-changing

ABC’s 20/20 aired an episode about a woman’s fraudulent fiance. He told her they were to be married by the Pope and their guests at the wedding mass could include their gay friends and that the gay friends could receive communion. The friend then uttered this great malaphor. Here is the video snippet:

This is a congruent conflation of “earth-shattering/shaking” and “life-changing” , both meaning something having a powerful effect. Maybe also thoughts about climate change going on in the speaker’s head? A tip of the hat to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in.


They just decided that they wanted to give him (Trump) a walk

House impeachment manager Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) was on CNN’s State of the Union, and was discussing the impeachment trial and the verdict. Talking about Mitch McConnell’s closing argument that supported the House Managers’ arguments, she said:

“They all agreed,” she added. “They just decided that they wanted to give him a walk and they found a technicality that they created to do so.” https://www.thedailybeast.com/delegate-stacey-plaskett-says-impeachment-trial-needed-more-senators-with-spines

This is a nice conflation of “to give (one) a pass” (accept someone’s improper actions or behavior without punishment) and “walk away from (someone or something)”, (to come through on the other side of an event without suffering any harm). “Let him walk” (acquitted on a criminal charge) was probably also in the mix. Of course, “walk the plank” (to suffer punishment at the hands of someone) might have been on her mind, considering the context. A big thanks to Bruce Ryan for hearing this one and sending it in!


Trump led us down the tubes

This beauty was seen on a Facebook comment, discussing Trump supporters storming the United States Capitol. It is a conflation of “going down the tubes” (to become much worse) and I think, given the context, “lead (someone) down the garden path” (to deceive or mislead someone). The mashup takes on a whole new meaning, and describes the situation perfectly. Interestingly, I posted a previous malaphor that Trump uttered and is a close one: “Clinton is selling them down the tubes”. See https://malaphors.com/2016/08/28/clinton-is-selling-them-down-the-tubes/

A big thank you to David Stephens for spotting this one and sending it in!