If so, what would be a better way to phrase that sentence? I don't think "spread" is the right word.

closed as primarily opinion-based by JJJ, J. Taylor, Scott, lbf, MetaEd Jul 19 '18 at 17:59

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Although there's nothing necessarily wrong with mixed metaphors, this sentence isn't one—and it's fine as it is.

The initial resentment did two things:

  1. It poisoned the relationship.
  2. It grew with every perceived slight.

It's not the poison that grew, but the initial resentment. The sentence is a simple conjunction that takes the form the initial resentment did A and B. Both things are natural consequences of resentment.

An actual mixed metaphor (from Merriam-Webster) is:

: a figure of speech combining inconsistent or incongruous metaphors

If we want to get ahead we'll have to iron out the remaining bottlenecks.

Here, the sentence doesn't flow naturally. You have to read it several times in order to try to understand the meaning.

  • Actually, there is something fundamentally wrong with mixed metaphors: They sound silly. For example, "They put all their eggs in one basket, and it came back to bite them." (I mean, how does a basket of eggs bite?) However, I appreciate the rest of your answer. Thank you. ⬆️ – Grammar Nazi Jul 19 '18 at 7:56
  • @GrammarNazi I keep smiling at your example for some reason. It's certainly silly, but, at least to me, also humorous. I hadn't heard that one before but I'll remember it. ;) – Jason Bassford Jul 19 '18 at 13:26
  • @GrammarNazi: "You wouldn't say that because the pronoun "it" needs an antecedent noun and doesn't have one in your sentence. You would say: "They put all their eggs in one basket and their decision came back to bite them." As an aside, I wonder if you would consider using a different moniker from GrammarNazi. I understand that Jewish people find reference to Nazism in any non-serious fashion confronting. Actually, so do I! – Brenda Jul 19 '18 at 15:47
  • @Brenda, in today’s moment I fear we must expect that to be the very intent – Unrelated Jul 19 '18 at 15:59
  • Maybe even more to the point, "growing" is not a metaphor at all. That is simply what the word means. Literally. – RegDwigнt Jul 19 '18 at 21:07

"Grew" seems less mixed than weak. Or overly vague or lazy. Try "killed" "blighted" "liquidated" etc.

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