Kind of a tough nut to tease out

This was overheard in a work conversation.  It is a mashup of “a tough nut to crack” (a problem that is challenging to solve) and “tease out (something)” (to unravel or separate out something).  The two idioms fused together indicate something that is hard to solve.  A big thanks to Amanda Zsuzsics for hearing this one and sending it in to my facebook page, Malaphors.


They are high on our radar

A national hockey writer was talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ chances of winning the Stanley Cup this year, and he mentioned that the Pens are always “high on our radar”.  This is a congruent conflation of “on the radar” and “high on the list” (something important or noteworthy).  “Under the radar” (undetected) is an idiom and may have contributed to the mashup (under vs. high).  A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this one and sending it in.


Freeballing

The speaker was talking about someone ad libbing or talking off the cuff.  It is a word blend of “spitballing” (suggesting ideas, brainstorming), and “freewheeling” (uncontrolled).  “Freestyling” (improvising) may also be in the mix, given the context.  It is acknowledged that “freeballing” is indeed a word, meaning to not wear underwear, but in the context of the discussion, it is clear the speaker was mixing idioms.  A big thanks to Mike and Anthony Kovacs (and Sandor?) for spotting the malaphor immediately.


He’s teetering a fragile line

Ginger Gibson, Reuters Political Correspondent on the NPR show A1, was talking about Trump’s recent actions relative to the Roger Stone sentencing.  This is a mashup of “teetering on the edge” (to be very close to a dangerous situation)  and “walking a fine line” (in a dangerous situation where you could easily make a mistake).  Both idioms involve dangerous situations, and “line” and “edge” are closely related.  Not sure where “fragile” fits in, but “fine” has a similar meaning to “fragile”, to wit – fine means “having or requiring an intricate delicacy of touch” as in ‘delicate’, ‘fragile’, ‘frail’,” etc .”  Here’s where you can hear a recording: at 7:25. https://the1a.org/segments/the-news-roundup-domestic-2020-014-02/  

By the way, this is Ms. Gibson’s second malaphor.  See  https://malaphors.com/2018/05/18/the-buck-stops-at-the-top/.

A tip of the hat to David Barnes for hearing this one.


He’s tooting that horn all the way to the bank

This one comes from the Washington Post’s Daily 202  Connie Breeden, an attorney who is African American, said “This is going to be Biden’s last stand because he thinks that black people are going to support him just because of Barack Obama. He’s tooting that horn all the way to the bank. But people are savvier than that.”  This is a mashup of “tooting his own horn” (to boast or brag about one’s abilities) and “laughing all the way to the bank” (to profit from something that others regard as stupid or frivolous).  Here’s the link to the malaphor

https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=YmVpZ2VuQHZlcml6b24ubmV0&s=5e555749fe1ff658cabcb3bc&linknum=4&linktot=85

Perhaps the speaker was thinking of thieves dressed as clowns robbing a bank.  That is certainly in several movies, including Quick Change.  A big thank you to Barry Eigen for spotting this one and sending it in.


You were out like a log

While I posted this one way back in 2012, it bears repeating as I think it is one of the purest congruent conflations out there, and a common one as well.  The speaker was talking about her lack of sleep the previous night but that her husband slept soundly, describing him as being out like a log.  This is a congruent conflation of “slept like a log” and “out like a light”, both referring to sound sleep.  There are a lot of the letter L in both expressions, contributing to the mix up.  A big thanks to Donna Calvert for sending this one in.  Glad to hear Bill is sleeping well in retirement.


He has his hands in a lot of pies

The contributor of this malaphor was also the speaker, and blurted out this beauty by accident.  It is almost a congruent conflation, as both “a hand in something” and “a finger in every pie” mean to have an interest in or involvement in a matter, but in the case of finger in every pie, it is involvment in everything.  “Fingers” and “hands” seem to be the culprit here, and I suspect, knowing the speaker, that his mind might have been on some pie-fighting scenes in a few 3 Stooges shorts.  A shout out to Martin Pietrucha for sending this one in!