Posted by: Jack Henry | May 9, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Mixed Metaphors

“A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.”

First, what is a metaphor? According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, a metaphor is:

1: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or action is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in the ship plows the seas or in a volley of oaths) : an implied comparison (as in a marble brow) in contrast to the explicit comparison of the simile (as in a brow white as marble); broadly : figurative language

2: an object, activity, or idea that is used as a symbol of something else

A mixed metaphor is two or more inconsistent metaphors joined together, just as in the joke above. Here are some additional examples of mixed metaphors:

  • Leaving a sour taste in the client’s eye…
  • That’s awfully thin gruel for the right wing to hang their hats on.
  • I don’t think we should wait until the other shoe drops. History has already shown what is likely to happen. The ball has been down this court before and I can see already the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • I conclude that the city’s proposal to skim the frosting, pocket the cake, and avoid paying the fair, reasonable, and affordable value of the meal is a hound that will not hunt.
  • You’ve taken a rare orchid and shut her away in a dark outhouse. You haven’t nourished her or paid her enough attention. Is it any wonder that her roots are struggling to survive? Daisy is a trapped bird whose wings have been broken, she is a Fabergé egg that you have boiled for four minutes and eaten for your breakfast.
  • I knew enough to realize that the alligators were in the swamp and that it was time to circle the wagons.
  • Wake up and smell the coffee on the wall.
  • Back to the grinding board.
  • I don’t like it. When you open that Pandora’s box, you will find it full of Trojan horses.
  • He came out of it smelling like a bandit.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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