Michael Steele, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and political pundit, said this one on Nicole Wallace’s show, Deadline: White House. Mr. Steele was talking about the Jason Blake shooting and his experience as a father talking to his sons about what to do if stopped by police. This is a congruent conflation of “hits home” and “hit (one) like a ton of bricks”, both expressions meaning to receive information that has a sudden or signifcant impact on one. A big thank you to Mike Kovacs for hearing this subtle and neatly formed malaphor and sending it in.
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This is a rare double malaphor spoken by Van Jones on the Anderson Cooper show 360 degrees. Here is the excerpt from the CNN transcript:
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think they’re going to leave it all on the table. They’re going to put it all on the court. Look, I think if you are Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, to sit here — I mean, if you think we feel heartbroken, terrified and just, you know, miserable about what’s going on, imagine how they feel.
The first malaphor, “leave it all on the table”, is a congruent conflation of “leave it all on the field” and “leave nothing on the table”, both meaning to give something 100% or everything you have. The second, “put it all on the court”, is a mashup of “leave it all on the court” (give something 100%) and put it all on the line” (risk everything for something). Mixing sports idioms with politics is a risky business, and Mr. Jones realized he had uttered a malaphor, but his quick attempt made him step into malaphor doo doo once more. This unicorn was spotted by Bruce Ryan, and for that he is now elevated into the Malaphor Hall of Fame. @VanJones68
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This was heard on the CBS tv show “The Greatest #AtHome Videos”. Cedric the Entertainer teamed with Kristen Chenoweth to surprise a group of young performers. One of the performers uttered this nice malaphor. You can hear it here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=785249305547779
It is a mashup of “pull out all the stops” (to do someting with maximum effort or ability) and “pull the strings” (to be in control of events or some other people’s actions). “Pulled on our heart strings” might also be in the mix. “Pull” is the common denominator here, and “strings” and “stops” are also similar sounding words, adding to the confusion. A big thanks to Lou Pugliese who heard this one and passed it on.
This subtle mixup was uttered on Steve Hilton’s show on Fox by The Mooch, Anthony Scaramucci, when discussing the current demographic base of the Republican Party. https://www.foxnews.com/us/hilton-scaramucci-clash-over-presidential-politics-best-candidate
It is a congruent conflation of “broaden the base” and “make a bigger tent”, both meaning a group or movement that encompasses the broadest and most diverse members possible. A big thanks to Frank King who sent this one in.
This was heard on one of those cop shows on Court TV. A woman who was helping set up a perpetrator uttered this one. It is a mashup of “play (someone) like a fiddle” (easily mainpulate someone for one’s own needs) and “go over (something) with a fine-tooth comb” (scrutinize something). The piano reference might be an eggcorn of ‘fine-tooth” for “fine-tuned”. A “player piano” (mechanical piano) might also have been on the speaker’s mind. A big thanks to Gary Kelly who heard this one and passed it on!
This perfectly formed malaphor is found in the foreward to Michael Cohen’s soon to be released tell all book, “Disloyal”. Here is the context:
“Trump has no true friends. He has lived his entire life avoiding and evading taking responsibility for his actions. He crushed or cheated all who stood in his way, but I know where the skeletons are buried because I was the one who buried them.” https://www.foxnews.com/politics/michael-cohen-trump-disloyal-skeletons
This is a conflation of “know where (all) the bodies are buried” (to know secret or scandalous information about a person or group) and “have skeletons in (one’s) the closet” (to have damaging or incriminating secrets from one’s past). Both idioms involve secrets and damaging information, and both involve dead bodies, hence the mixup. This mashup is actually brilliant in that it incorporates damaging information and where to get the damaging information all in one terrific malaphor.
A big thanks to Mike Kovacs, Chief Malaphor Hunter, for spotting this one in plain sight. Bravo.
A pastor was teaching on Psalm 76, noting that when Jesus was transfigured the disciples fell on their feet. This is a conflation of “fall on (one’s) knees” (to kneel down as a show of respect) and “be swept off (one’s) feet” (to become very enamored with someone). Both expressions involve admiration or awe of another. Also the body parts “knees” and “feet” seem to be the source of the confusion here. Of course, “fall on (one’s) feet” is an expression indicating one who is lucky or successful, and I suppose that is true in the disciples’ case. However, I believe it is a malaphor given the context. A big thanks to Steve Grieme who heard this one and passed it on!
This nice congruent conflation of “red line” and “line in the sand”, both meaning the furthest limit of what will be tolerated, was uttered by Kasie Hunt on MSNBC last week (Craig Melvin hosting). “Line” appears in both idioms, which is probably the root of the confusion. Ms. Hunt is probably too young to remember the song, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, so it probably does not enter the mix. A big thanks to Frank King for hearing this one and sending it in.
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This one was heard on a podcast discussing the volatile nature of today’s political environment. It is a conflation of “throw a (monkey) wrench in(to) the works” (to disrupt or cause problems) and “like a bull in a china shop” (to be aggressive or clumsy in a situation that requires care and delicacy). As the submitter says, both phrases cause chaos. Certainly throwing a wrench in a china shop will cause damage much like that of a bull. A tip of the hat to Verbatim for hearing this one and sharing it.
Did you enjoy this malaphor? If so, check out my new book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits, available on Amazon today! Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860