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”.

  • 13
    Well, let's take a wild stab in the back!
    – Tesserex
    Sep 15, 2011 at 15:32
  • 7
    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. Sep 15, 2011 at 20:19
  • 3
    @Steve314 ...still...if food comes out of a different ear than it goes into, that person has problems.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 15, 2011 at 22:23
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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, 2011 at 5:02
  • 3
    You can't choose your relatives, but you can be a beggar.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 31, 2016 at 22:09

4 Answers 4


Seems these are called malaphors


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


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".

  • 1
    I was going to suggest antanaclasis but "malaphor" is better. Sep 15, 2011 at 9:18
  • 1
    Hum, I guess ‘Wiktionary has your exact example’ is quite a convincing argument!
    – F'x
    Sep 15, 2011 at 9:40
  • 1
    @Malvolio: antanaclasis seems a different usage altogether from this case.
    – JoseK
    Sep 15, 2011 at 9:50
  • 2
    @F'x - assuming the person in question didn't edit Wiktionary themselves to add it :P
    – Dusty
    Sep 15, 2011 at 13:51
  • 4
    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, 2011 at 21:09

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.

  • 8
    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." Sep 15, 2011 at 13:52
  • 3
    @Eric "...but did not want to jump without a parachute."
    – RedFilter
    Sep 15, 2011 at 18:15
  • An excellent source of mixed metaphors is the 6-part sketches 'Peter and John' on the British TV program 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie'. The two hard-drinking Fitness club owners do a lot of damage to standard English idioms. Example: Fry:'The boardroom and the bedroom are just two sides of the same agenda'
    – user3847
    Sep 26, 2017 at 18:40

It's fun to use a mixed or reverse metaphor deliberately and which elicits corrections from jerks who don't get the joke. Three of my favorites are: 'If you can't laugh at other people, who can you laugh at?'; 'It's as plain as the face on your nose!'; 'I thank you from the heart of my bottom.'


We have been calling these mixaphors here; a portmanteau of mixed and metaphor. We think they are the funniest thing since sliced bread.

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