Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Joys of Mixed Metaphors and Family Sayings

"Many hands make a tall horse."

Every family has those sayings which aren’t quite the norm. The grandmother of a childhood friend used to come out with a stack of them, including the wonderful, “They’re all daubed with the same stick.” And:

"It's the thin end of the iceberg."
There is a certain joy to be derived from a really good mixed metaphor. My father’s favourite is:

"Let's burn that bridge when we come to it."
By far the easiest way to demonstrate this phenomenon is the illustrate it, so read on and enjoy.

"Like a duck out of water."

"A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."

"You appear to have bitten off the wrong end of the stick."

"It's important to get all your ducks in a rowboat."

"Grab the bull by the horns and run with it."

"'Close' only counts in hand shoes and horse grenades."

"A mixed metaphor is like killing two birds without a paddle."

"You've made your cake, now you must lie in it."

"Never try to burn the midnight oil at both ends."

"It's not exactly rocket surgery."

"Any teacup in a storm."

"Trying to thread a needle with a haystack."

"You're skating on thin eggshells."
And, probably my personal favourite:

"If you've nothing good to say about anyone, come and sit next to me."
Please add your own favourite nonsensical family saying or mixed metaphor in the comments!

This week’s Word of the Week is zugzwang, which is a word well-known to chess players. It means you have to make a move, because it’s your turn, but you know that any possible move will be to your disadvantage. From the German zug, meaning move, and zwang, compulsion.


  1. Oh, Zoe, I've laughed out loud all through this marvelous post.

    I had a colleague and my husband David had a client that used malaprops consistently. One of them always said, "That's water over the bridge and the other said, "That's water under the dam." I thought I had the craziest ever when--in a client meeting, my colleague said of new employee, "We have to have patience with him. He's still green behind the ears."

    But David's client took the cake once and for all when, at an executive committee meeting he said, "I've got an ace up my hole, and I'm sitting on it."

    1. Thanks, Annamarie. I love the 'green behind the ears' saying. In fact, those three are lovely!

  2. Replies
    1. And if it doesn't, Jeff, perhaps all it needs is a woolly sock...?