Posted by: Jack Henry | November 24, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Malaphor Contest

Hello everyone! My coworker Jane sent me a new term, some examples of this term, and a great suggestion. Let’s get right to it!

The word of the day is malaphor. The website ThoughtCo defines a malaphor as “…an informal term for a mixture of two aphorisms, idioms, or clichés (such as "We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it"). Another name for the term is “an idiom blend.

Let’s have a look at some malaphors from ThoughtCo and then from elsewhere.

  • You hit the nail right on the nose.
  • I can read him like the back of my book.
  • We could stand here and talk until the cows turn blue.
  • It’s time to step up to the plate and lay your cards on the table.
  • He’s burning the midnight oil from both ends.
  • It sticks out like a sore throat.

And from Richard Lederer:

  • It’s like looking for a needle in a hayride.
  • It’s time to swallow the bullet.
  • It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake.
  • That guy’s out to butter his own nest.

Here are some other ones from The Big List of Malaphors:

  • The table is on the other foot now.
  • The apple doesn’t fall from the scene of the crime.
  • Not the sharpest egg in the drawer.
  • If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, wear it.
  • You’ve buttered your bread, and now you’ve got to lie in it.
  • Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, give a man a rod, and he’ll look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • He’s not the sharpest cookie in the drawer.
  • The lights are on, but there is no-one at the wheel.
  • Don’t count your chickens over spilled milk.
  • You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it float.

And now, for those of you who are guilty of speaking in malaphors or for those of you just ready for the challenge of making up your own mixes…I have a contest for you! I hereby invite our clients, JHA employees, former employees, and friends (in the United States)—to participate. Between now and December 8, 2020, send me your malaphors that aren’t already on the lists here. (And though I am not sure of any naughty idioms, I ask that you keep your submissions clean enough for G-rated readers.)

I’ll share the submissions with everyone, and I’ll pick two winners—the person with the best, funniest malaphor, and a random pick from the submitters. The two winners will receive their own copy of He Smokes Like a Fish and Other Malaphors as your prize!

If I don’t receive any submissions, then you can just go on your merry way and forget about malaphors. Thank you, Jane, and good luck to everyone!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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