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Mirthful Mixed Metaphors

Updated on January 2, 2013

Welcome to Mirthful Mixed Metaphors

This lighthearted lens is devoted to miscellaneous musings on the mirth of mixed metaphors.

It will appeal to levity-conscious language lovers, laughter-oriented lexicologists, and ludicrously-inclined logotypes.

WARNING: Anguished adverbists, distressed diphthongers, and pang-filled pronounists may experience follicle irritation when perusing this lens, (which is probably why they should avoid sweating bullets trying to pull their hair out with this perplexing piece of piffle or possibly pleasant piece of poetic puffery).

Curious Capers & Contradictory Comparisons

What is a mixed metaphor?

Well, the short answer is it's twisted twaddle if you really must know.

The long loquacious answer is a metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two unlike things. The more familiar thing helps describe the less familiar on. More specifically, a mixed metaphor is a combination of elements that are either incongruent or contradictory by the use of incompatible identifications, such as "the dog pulled in its horns", "to take arms against a sea of troubles", "to hold the fort, he'd have to shake a leg". Note: The effect of a mixed metaphor can be absurd as well as sublime. (Source:

For non-eggheads, a mixed metaphor is simply a succession of incongruous or ludicrous comparisons. It's like that old joke: "Keep your eye on the ball, your ear to the ground, your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel: Now try to work in that position."

A CAN OF CRAZY CONUNDRUMS? - No, It's A Tweet Tale of Twaddle!

"I don't want this project to snowball into a can of worms" said the sheepish sharp cookie from the cutting-edge high-tech firm of The Carrot at the End of the Tunnel.

The CEO added, "Besides, I don't want anybody stepping on anybody else's thunder or pulling the sheep over my eyes, is that clear!"

Amid the throng of three peachy keen employees (who had been burning the midnight oil at both ends, figuring out how to get along like a horse on fire and cook on all four cylanders), one poor plebe courted disaster by saying, "Sir, I regret to inform you that since I have too many oars in the fire and I will be unable to attend".

To which the fearless yet fishy ram-a-dam-a-ding-dong leader reply, "Suck it up son, I want you all to pair up in threes, then line up in a circle alphabetically by height so we can learn how to 1) button your seat belts 2) hang on to our coattails to ride the waves of change, 2) swim uphill against the grain or go up the creek in a handbag, whichever comes first."

The fickle finger of fate reared it's ugly head that day because it had something else in mind -- like teaching them all how to grab a bull by the horns of a dilemma and run with it without grasping at the straw that broke the camel's back or walking a mile in a camel's shoes to pass through the eye of a needle.

Moral to the tale of twits and twaddle, "It's as plain as the egg on your face, once you open a can of worms, they always come home to roost or at the very least go up a tree without a paddle."

What good is a fish without a bicycle? - Or horse without a hat?


Image Credit: Kara Cochran at

Who Says Sporting Types Don't Know How to Kick Off the Hockey Season?

As the last batter kicked off the hockey season by stepping up to the plate, knuckling down, and picking up the gauntlet, the crowd of one rose to his feet, sensing that when the chips were down and the situation was not up to par in left field, it was definitely time to head to the nearest sticky wicket to jump the gun, get behind the eight ball, and take the bait hook, line, and sinker.

There's More to Life than Being the Bottom Rung of the Ladder

Publius Plodmeister, (not the sharpest marble in the drawer nor the perfect sliced pickle among the strips of hard-boiled egg whites in Toad Suck, Arkansa), realized that he was tired of being a pawn in a lousy game of checkers and playing second spoon in a kitchen quartet. He wanted to learn how to use his head for something besides furrowing his brow, putting a monkey in the wrench, or squeezing money out of turnip.

There Wasn't a Dry Tear in the Place

Calamity Jane wasn't averse to sitting out the tempest in a teapot or the eyebrow of a hurricane provided she could insult a Hostess Twinkie, gnash her feet, and enjoy five nights of shooting stars with her spring-loaded red bikini in the lap of tuxury, Californica.

She was not however prepared for City workers to cut into a water main and then let it gush like a mountain for hours on end, ruining her view of scorching sunsets and sybaritic celebrities. To top it all off, the rain came down in droves, or maybe it was gangbusters which is why most of the cats and dogs were obliged to carry galoshes and wear umbrellas for weeks.

And, as if that was not enough, a weather forecaster full of hot air warned of a snowball coming down the mountain with a full head of steam. All of which made it hard to catch lightening in a bottle twice. Even worse political pundits warned that the ship of state would have a difficult road ahead without getting their feet wet.

Moral to the story: Don't mess with Calamity Jane if don't want any teapots in a tempest!

It's as American as Killing Two Love Birds with One Apple

If it's as American as killing two love birds with one apple pie, it's probably because in the Land of the Red, White and Blue they know that the early bird gathers no moss.

Good Lord, if that's true, why don't they know how to eat humble crow, butter their nest, not to mention ignore the alligators in the swamp and circle the wagons?

And while we're at it, If they're so smart, how come they don't know why it's no use beating others over the head with a dead horse??


Image Credit: mixkinnah at

Tale of A Bad Girl Who Gnashes Leaves

Here is a rather fine example of an amusing mixed metaphor used in "Pastoralia", a satire of the modern workplace by Gorge Sanders:

Think of you and Janet as branches on a tree. While it's true that a branch sometimes needs to be hacked off and come floating down, so what, that is only one branch, it does not kill the tree, and sometimes one branch must die so that the others may live. And anyway, it only looks like death, because you are falsely looking at this through the lens of an individual limb or branch, when in fact you should be thinking in terms of the lens of what is the maximum good for the overall organism, or tree.

When we chop one branch, we all become stronger! And that branch on the ground, looking up, has the pleasure of knowing that he or she made the tree better, which I hope Janet will do. Although knowing her? With her crappy attitude? Probably she will lie on the ground wailing and gnashing her leaves while saying swear words up at us. But who cares! She is gone. She is a goner. And we have you to thank. So thanks!

Although, it's more likely that this in this wonky workplace the most admired loopy libertine just "Eat Shoots & Leaves", (the title of a pithy piece of punctuated prose by Lynn Truss).

Don't Get Your Tinsel in A Tangle - Or let your merry metaphors be mangled!

Here is a rather entertaining example of mixed metaphors by Mitch Benn to warm the cockles of your feet this Christmas:

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 hoist 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.


Image Credit: - 97528217


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Feedback from the Pithy Peanut Gallery - What's your favorite mixed metaphor? C'mon don't be shy, give it a try.

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      ShamanicShift 7 years ago

      I like to say, "It's half of one, six dozen of the other..." and see if anyone notices.