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I couldn't come up with a short title, but the upside is that there is not much needed to be said in the body of the question!


For @dmr (and others), it mixes “let's cross that bridge when we come to it” and “burn one's bridges”.

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I'm being a little slow here, but which two idioms is this phrase mixing? –  dmr Sep 15 '11 at 13:37
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Well, let's take a wild stab in the back! –  Tesserex Sep 15 '11 at 15:32
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My favorite mixed metaphors: We've got to stop spoon-feeding these people. It goes in one ear and out the other. And One man's goose is another man's gander. –  MerleTenney Sep 15 '11 at 20:19
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@Merle - that spoon-feeding/in-one-ear thing isn't a mixed metaphor, just a badly aimed spoon. –  Steve314 Sep 15 '11 at 22:11
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If we can hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate. - zb –  sml Sep 16 '11 at 5:02
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2 Answers

up vote 31 down vote accepted

Seems these are called malaphors

Definition:

An informal term for a blend of two aphorisms, idioms, or clichés (such as "That's the way the cookie bounces").

Etymology:

A blend of malaproprism and metaphor, coined by Lawrence Harrison in the Washington Post article "Searching for Malaphors" (Aug. 6, 1976)

Wiktionary has your exact example

Examples include "hitting the nail on the thumb", "barking up the wrong alley" and "We'll burn that bridge when we come to it".

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I was going to suggest antanaclasis but "malaphor" is better. –  Malvolio Sep 15 '11 at 9:18
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@Malvolio: antanaclasis seems a different usage altogether from this case. –  JoseK Sep 15 '11 at 9:50
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@F'x - assuming the person in question didn't edit Wiktionary themselves to add it :P –  Dusty Sep 15 '11 at 13:51
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My favorite is "it's not rocket surgery". Also, I've hypothesized that this is the origin of "teach your grandma to suck eggs". –  Marthaª Sep 15 '11 at 21:09
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@Dusty: Yup - I edited it in way back in December 2008 precisely for this question to come along ;) –  JoseK Sep 16 '11 at 6:29
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I believe the term for this is mixed metaphor

This is where you take two common metaphors and mix them together, often incorrectly, to make a metaphor that doesn't make sense.

For example, mixing "You can't have your cake and eat it" with "It's not over till the fat lady sings" might produce "It's not over till you've had your fat lady and eaten it".

If your particular example is meant as a joke, then I would say that it is a pun.

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I agree that this is a sort of mixed metaphor, but a "mixed metaphor" is more commonly used to describe the result of accidentally combining two metaphors in a way that does not make sense as a whole. "For me it was stormy in the great sea of life, but then I came to a crossroads." –  Eric Lippert Sep 15 '11 at 13:52
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@Eric "...but did not want to jump without a parachute." –  RedFilter Sep 15 '11 at 18:15
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