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Museum of Mangled Metaphors

Updated on January 1, 2013

Welcome to the Museum of Mangled Metaphors

This lighthearted lens is devoted to a little-known institution, the Museum of Mangled Metaphors.

Supported by the mischief-making efforts of the Mangled Metaphors & Miscellaneous Mugwumps Society (MMMS) (who are dedicated to preserving perfectly preposterous examples of accidental if not amusing assaults upon the English language), the museum has managed to keep its doors open and find a reason for being in a world bereft of metaphors (mangled or otherwise).

However, we leave you to judge the misbegotten merits of these mirthful machinations!


Image Credit: - image#432352507 (from tofu nutloaf's photostream)


"Being a Master of Mixed Metaphor allows one to commit unpardonable sins against the English language not to mention bore dinner guests with a fog of odd words and weird phrases. It also implies a healthy appreciation of amusing absurdity, an eye for laughably ludicrous literary labyrinths, plus an ability to loosen the tongue with more than a few stiff drinks."

Quipping Queen

What's the difference between a Metaphor and a Mixed Metaphor?

A metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to paint one concept with the attributes normally associated with another. Example: "He has the wild stag's foot." This phrase suggests grace and speed as well as daring.

A mixed metaphor is one that leaps, in the course of a figure, to a second identification inconsistent with the first one. Example: "Now we can just kiss that program right down the drain", (said by a civil servant whose department's budget was slashed).

Other mirthful mixed metaphors include:

Suddenly, the smoldering seductive starlet was pinned by the spotlight, a floundering fish caught in the depths of a spider's web.

Or this, from Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities": "All at once he was alone in this noisy hive with no place to roost."

Of course, one can always resort to using entertaining exaggeration and inappropriate irony if the spirit moves one, e.g. "Her eyes held the glow of a late-night laptop which was probably a godsend because it covered up the fact that she had dishpan hands, a tuna fish complexion, and possessed the mind of a taciturn turtle with painted claws."

All things being equal, he had to admit that...

maybe he was riding a horse of a different feather.


Illustration Credit: - image 354903117


"The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance."

- Aristotle, De Poetica, 322 BCE

A Curious Cow - An example of a "moooving" mangled metaphor

The sacred cows have come home to roost with a vengeance.


Image Credit:

To Wax Poetic or To Wax My Moustache...That Is The Question! - A Tale of Two Twisted Tongues

Frankly Hank, I think he looks like he's got an ace up his nose.

Don't be ridiculous Esmerelda, he's just a disgruntled bridegroom waiting at the altar for a blind date.

Either way my dear...'tis time to throw a monkey in his wrench!


Image Credit:

Speaking of Ludicrous Language... - Is that a yottle in your bottle?

After taking ten short snorts and swigs of "Skinny Blonde" (Australia's first craft-brewed premium low-carb lager), Wyatt Burp decided that grabbing a bull by the tail and looking it in the eye was as easy as falling off a piece of cake!

A Politician Sticks His Foot In His Ear... - A Hopelessly Hoppy State of Mind Perhaps?

It comes straight from the horse's mouth...I have never buttered my own nest nor will I be side-tracked into a tangent by my opponents. The reason I favor this irrigation bill is so that we can turn the barren hills of my state into fruitful valleys. From now on, I'm watching everything my adversaries do with a fine-tuned comb!


Image Credit: - a bodacious Bavarian beer label

On the Whereabouts of the Wicked Witch of the West

To Whom It May Concern: Regret to inform you that the hand that rocked the cradle has kicked the bucket and is somewhere between a rock and the deep blue sea.

A Mangled Metaphor Melody!


I'm caught between the Devil and a hard place

Between the fire and the deep blue sea

Between a rock and the frying pan

What a terrible place to be.

I kicked two birds with one bucket

Bit more bullets than I could chew

I burnt my bridges at both ends

That's a pretty dumb thing to do.

And now I've got a snowball's chance in a handcart

I hope you'll let me explain

I'm standing on the precipice

Of a runaway train.

Now I'm hoisted by my own line and sinker

Since I opened up a whole bag of cats

I put my nose out of joint on the grindstone

I don't know why I did that.

I took a bull by the china shop

I won't do that again

Now I'm standing on the precipice

Of a runaway train.


Words Credit: Mitch Benn of the satirical sketch team on "The Now Show" (BBC), reprinted by

Image Credit: Star Shine Gallery

Meanwhile back at the Red-Neck Reindeer Ranch amidst a ripsnorting riot of lippy, laid-off long-distance telephone operators...

Valiant Varmint Vanquisher, Wild Bill Hiccup, realized he needed a rest; his hemorrhoids were a real pain in the neck.


Image Credit: - image #6667839

Tantalizing Turn-Of-Phrase Tomes

Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults upon Our Language
Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults upon Our Language

A great giggling guide to all manner of weird and wonderful wordplay!

Metaphors Dictionary
Metaphors Dictionary

A great gift for word birds -- with more than 6,000 metaphors in the English language!

I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World
I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World

Those who appreciate the nuances of language will appreciate the importance of metaphors in life to convey things that are difficult to express or to learn. A fine little gem!


Mirthful Mixed Metaphors Welcome - Feel free to leave your favorite mangled metaphor for others to enjoy!

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This lens is a regular tour de France!

    • Timewarp profile image


      8 years ago from Montreal

      Hilarious, I hear people use these all the time inadvertently!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm LAUGHING last, because I know it's always half of one, six dozen of the other.


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