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November 29, 2021

Collecting Mixed Metaphors & Accidental Words

Similar to people who make a hobby of collecting physical items, one of my hobbies is collecting mixed metaphors and accidental words. The true gems are those that are created and spoken right in front of me, without any intent of humor or irony.

An old co-worker excelled at accidentally creating mixed metaphors. Some of these included:

“He buttered his bread. Now he has to lie in it.” (Mash up of: “He buttered his own bread” and “He made his bed, now he has to lie in it.”)

“He’s a little green behind the ears.” (Mash up of: “He’s a little green” and “He’s still wet behind the ears.”)

“Someday when my cow comes in.” (Mash up of: “Someday when my ship comes in” and “…until the cows come home.”)

Back in our college days, my brother was all amped up about something and declared “That’s the last camel’s back.” I presume he was trying to say either “That’s the last straw” or “That’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

And then there is Mrs. Throckmorton.

I am working on a dictionary of the words she has accidentally created. She is at her creative best when she is particularly animated, and her tongue and brain can’t keep in sync with what she is trying to say.

She recently expressed concern about her dad’s health, worrying that he is becoming “old and feebile.” The funny thing is, I knew exactly what she meant. In fact, I’ve adopted the word. Why use two separate words, “feeble” and “senile,” if you can mash them together into one perfect word.

When she questioned the motivation of a certain person’s efforts to be visibly altruistic, Mrs. Throckmorton said that person was “trying to schinagle himself” into a position that would personally benefit him. I’m guessing that “schinagle” is some mash-up of the verbs “scheme” and “finagle.” Whatever the case, it’s a good word. I now use it.

She has referred to the dishwasher as “dish laundry.” She likes to “smell the sunshine.” And when the dogs would rather wander and sniff than keep moving forward on a walk, they are “me-ambling” (“meander” combined with “amble.”)

Oh, she can mix a metaphor too. Just this week she referred to someone as being “poor as a church mouse.” I gently pointed out that the phrase involving church mice is “quiet as a church mouse.” To which she replied, “Are you trying to tell me that church mice are wealthy!?” Point well taken.

Feel free to share any mixed metaphors you’ve encountered in the wild, as well as any accidental words that should be spread to a wider audience.

Ace will be back in this time slot again tomorrow. It’s been a pleasure hanging out with y’all the past week.

[buck.throckmorton at protonmail dot com]

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posted by Buck Throckmorton at 08:30 PM

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