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.
Bill Weir on CNN said this while discussing the returns in Arizona. He was discussing the results in different counties and was attempting to say, “let’s don’t jump to any conclusions”. It is a conflation of “(move something) up the chain” (seek approval at the next level) and “kick the can down the road” (defer or postpone a definitive action). Given the context, “kick (something) around” (to discuss something) might be in play. “Up” often means “down” and vice versa in the Malaphor World. A tip of the toque to Steve Hubbard for hearing this one and sending it in.
If you follow this website, you will know the name of Naomi David, dubbed “The Queen of Malaphors”. Oops, she did it again and uttered this gem, which is a congruent conflation of “wearing many hats” and “juggling/keeping balls in the air”, both meaning to hold many responsibilities at the same time. Since she was talking to Katie Hatfield Norwood, “hats” might have been on her mind.
Did you know hat spinning is a thing? In the final years of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, hat spinning was a fairly standard and common form of juggling. Today this art form is performed by perhaps as few as two or three jugglers in the entire world. For those who have never seen it, hat spinning can perhaps be best described as a cross between plate spinning and devil stick, with a flimsy, broad-brimmed hat being manipulated by one or two long sticks held in the juggler’s hands. https://www.juggle.org/hat-spinning-history-instruction-and-performers/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20best%20known,art%20form%20was%20Walter%20Bellonini.&text=Other%20early%20jugglers%20who%20performed,least%20as%20early%20as%201875.
A big thanks to Naomi David and Katie Norwood for this one.
There was a conversation about a person who got intimate with someone related to her boss. This is a nice conflation of “sleep around” (to engage in sex with many different partners) and “don’t shit where you eat” (do not engage in troublesome or dubious behavior at home or at work). A big thanks to Doree Simon for spotting this one and sending it in!
Fun fact: Eating while asleep is a disorder. It’s called sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) and is a type of parasomnia (sleep disorder) characterized by abnormal eating patterns during the night. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/12123-sleep-related-eating-disorders#:~:text=People%20with%20sleep%2Drelated%20eating,the%20night%20with%20full%20awareness.
This rare comment was noticed in an online comment. The commenter was talking about Attorney General Barr’s undermining the confidence in voting by mail, and the desperation of Trump and his minions to stay in power so that they can benefit financially. This is a congruent conflation of “milking the cow” and “bleeding/milking (something) dry”, both meaning to take as much of something from someone or something as possible. “Cash cow” (an investment that generates a lot of income) may also be in the mix, considering the context. A big thanks to Ron MacDonald for spotting this one.
Bill Maher said this one on his show last week, referring to Nate Silver’s analysis of the election and why people should listen to him. It is a mashup of “crunch the numbers” (performs numerous calculations) and “crack the code” (solve a difficult problem or mystery). “Crunching” and “cracking” are both similar sounding words (lots of onomatopoeia going on here), contributing to the merry mixup. A code usually involves numbers, so that might have been swirling in the speaker’s brain at the time. Another tip of the crack to Mike Kovacs who heard this one.
I am discussing these two malaphors together as they were uttered on the same topic and they are mashups of similar idioms. The first, “straight from the hip”, was spoken on the Nicole Wallace show, Deadline: White House, during a discussion about Biden’s town hall and that he was speaking “straight from the hip”. “Straight from the shoulder” (simple, direct, and forthright) is what the speaker meant to say, and this was mixed with “shoot from the hip” (to speak rashly or recklessly). The phrases are almost opposites, making this an excellent example of an incongruent conflation (unintentional blend of two or more idioms with opposite meanings).
The second malaphor, “shoot from the shoulder”, was uttered by Joe Biden at his town hall (and this is the phrase MSNBC had latched on in the malaphor above). Herer is the quote:
“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd Thursday night in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton.
This is also a mashup of “straight from the shoulder” and “shoot from the hip”, another incongruent conflation. Body parts and alliteration are all responsible for these mixups. A big thank you to Bruce Ryan, Pamela Pankey, John Pekich, and Kathy Meinhardt for all spotting the malaphor.
This one was spotted in a New York Times article, covering the Presidential race in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here is the context and quote:
Chris Rutherford, 51, of Minneapolis, is leaning back in Mr. Trump’s direction as a result of recent unrest. A Republican who said he was dismayed by Mr. Trump’s “constant lying,” Mr. Rutherford said he had been deeply troubled by the damage to his community inflicted first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by episodes of vandalism and rioting.
“Covid is wiping out these businesses and this was the nail in the coffin,” Mr. Rutherford said, stressing, “We cannot have these riots.”
Mr. Rutherford said that while he slightly favored Mr. Trump, he might still support Mr. Biden if he did more to warn of repercussions for people who “grotesquely violate the law.”
“He says, ‘I condemn,’ but he doesn’t ever say what he’s going to do,” Mr. Rutherford said, adding that if Mr. Biden went further it would be “the straw that would tip me over to him.”
This is a mashup of “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, “the last straw”, (both meaning the final problem in a series that causes one to finally lose one’s patience) and “tip the scales (or balance)” (something that upsets the balance such that one side gains advantage). It’s almost a congruent conflation, as all the expressions refer to an incident or something that finally changes the situation. As the contributor points out, “straws” seem to pop up in malaphors frequently. Past examples include “it was the nail that broke the camel’s back”, https://malaphors.com/2016/04/06/it-was-the-nail-that-broke-the-camels-back/, “the last straw in the coffin”, https://malaphors.com/2012/11/22/the-last-straw-in-the-coffin/, “I’m at the end of my straw”, https://malaphors.com/2013/04/12/im-at-the-end-of-the-straw/, and “that’s a bit of a straw horse”, https://malaphors.com/2019/04/29/thats-a-bit-of-a-straw-horse-isnt-it/. Even one of my all time favorites, “let’s draw hats”, has the ubiquitous straw floating in the speaker’s mind. A big thank you to Barry Eigen for noticing this one and sending it in.
Still thinking about buying the latest malaphor book, “Things Are Not Rosy-Dory: Malaphors From Politicians and Pundits”? This latest malaphor might be the straw that tips you over. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C7GGMG5?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860