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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
Jeremy Harris, actor and playwright, was on Late Night with Seth Myers. He was talking about the federal theater project and how enthusiastic he was about it. This is a conflation of “beating the drum for” (promoting someone or something) and “blowing/tooting (one’s) own horn” (boast or brag about one’s abilities). “Beating the bushes” (trying very hard to achieve something) might be in play here as well given the context. And no, the subject was not masturbation. A big thanks to Sam Edelmann who heard this one and sent it in!
A defendant was telling Judge Judy that the facts will come out shortly. This is a conflation of “the truth will out” (the facts will always be discovered) and “the proof is in the pudding” (the final results of something are the only way to judge its quality or veracity). Some may think this is a malaprop (mistaken use of a similar sounding word) – “truth” for “proof”. However, given the context, it is very likely the speaker confused two idioms resulting in a nice malaphor. A big thanks to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this one and Mike Kovacs for his cub reporting.
Nikema Williams (D-GA) was talking on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports about the current poor leadership. This is a mashup of “leading from the front” (to act or behave the way one advises or espouses) and “getting off on the right foot” (to have a positive or favorable start). I suppose that is better than leading from the back foot. Another big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one.