The Manafort situation throws the whole incentive system on its head

Columbia Law School professor Berit Berger uttered this one on the MSNBC show “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams”. She was discussing the pardon system and the Manafort case.  This is a mashup of “turn (something) on its head” (to alter something in an unexpected way) and “throw it out the window” (forgotten, disregarded).  “Turning” and “throwing” seems to have caused the mixup here.  A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one.



Is it “Defend On Your Own” night?

The contributor says her husband says this when she doesn’t feel like cooking for dinner.  The malaphor prompts a visual of the family opening the refrigerator and fighting for the best leftovers.  This is a mashup of “stand on one’s (own) two feet” (act independently) and “fend for (oneself)” (take care of oneself without the assistance of others).  I suppose the speaker was thinking of the word “fend” but uttered “defend” instead.  A tip of the hat to Lori Snider for sending this one in!

My hackles were ruffled

This was overheard at a nearby table at breakfast.  This is a brilliant congruent conflation of “ruffle (ones’) feathers” and “raise (one’s) hackles”, both meaning to make one irritated or angry.  “Ruffle” and “raise” both begin with the letter r, possibly contributing to the mix.  By the way, do you know what “hackles” are?  Hackles are the hairs on the back of an animal’s neck, which stick up when the animal feels fearful or angry (late 1800s).  So, the two expressions involve some type of body covering sticking up, a perfect explanation of the mashup.  A bravo to Sam Edelmann who heard this one all the way from India.

He tends to pull things out of his head

Heard on MSNBC by Matt Miller, a former spokesperson for the Justice Department.  He was talking about Rudy Giuliani and his off the cuff (“shoots off the cuff?”) remarks in interviews.  This is a triple congruent conflation of “off the top of one’s head”, “pluck (something) out of thin air”, and “pull (something) out of a hat”, all meaning a random thought.  “Head” and “hat” get confused a lot and that’s what appears to have happened here.  As you know, the usual thing pulled out of a hat is a rabbit.  As “my ol’ pal” notes, tThe more usual metaphor nowadays is “pull things out of his ass” (making things up) which is probably closer to the meaning of what Matt Miller was trying to convey about Giuliani.  For obvious reasons he probably substituted “head” for “ass” at the last second.  Thus the birth of this malaphor.


Smart as a tack

This is an example of a perfectly formed malaphor.  It is a congruent conflation (the best kind of malaphor, imho) of “smart as a whip” and “sharp as a tack”, both describing someone as highly intelligent.  Smart and sharp are similar sounding words, and both idioms contain the “as a” words.  Also, if you sit on a tack, it does smart, doesn’t it?  The mashup is also heard in the Adam Sandler movie, “Big Daddy”.  Here’s the clip:

A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha who heard this one and sent it in.

Starting to make a turn back?

This crazy word blend mash up is courtesy of a tweet from President Donald Trump.  Here is the tweet:

This is a word blend of “”turnaround” ( a complete change in opinion or method) and “comeback” (a return to popularity).  As I have noted before in previous posts, malaphors can be word blends or idiom blends.  The word blend seems to be a less common phenomenon.

This is the big, 40,000 foot question

Tim Mak, NPR political reporter on the NPR radio show, Here and Now, was discussing the recent indictment of Roger Stone.  He was retelling what was in the indictment, but questioning what evidence Special Counsel Robert Mueller has in his possession.  This gem can be heard at 5:15 of the following:

This is a wonderful conflation of “the 64,000 dollar question” (a question very important and/or difficult to answer) and “the 10,000 (or sometimes 20, 30, or 40,000) foot view” (a description of a problem or issue that provides general information, but short on details).  Idioms containing numbers are often jumbled.  I have posted some other great ones, such as “hindsight is 50/50” ( and “we were 3 sheets passing in the night” (  A big thanks to Tom Justice for hearing this one and sending it in!