Mixing (or ignoring?) metaphors

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Matt Taibbi has gotten some teasing for mixing metaphors in a recent Xeet about Bannon's jailing:

That’s . . . a lot of metaphors.

[image or embed]

— Radley Balko (@radleybalko.bsky.social) Jun 7, 2024 at 6:42 PM

Scott Lemieux, among others, linked to Taibbi's 2009 analysis of Thomas Friedman's propensity to mix metaphors ("Vampire squid guy: “I have determined that as plain as the nose on your face prosecuting [Republicans] for white collar crime would be a wolf in sheep’s clothing that crosses the Rubicon on steroids”).

Obviously, people "mix" metaphors precisely when the metaphors in question are dead to them, or never were alive — and given the whole non-metaphorical Neanderthals theory, we could tease metaphor-misers for having more Neanderthal genes that then rest of us. I won't do that, because (at least according to the not-very-reliable Genographic Project) I'm 4% Neanderthal + 3.8% Denisovan.

A couple of fun mixed-metaphor images added by others to the thread:

And one about that Hobbesian jungle:

Here's a 2020 Richard Lederer column "Mixed-up metaphors hit the bull’s eye on the nose", with lots of good examples…


  1. Y said,

    June 9, 2024 @ 12:43 pm

    Let us not forget Orwell's "The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song."

  2. Lester said,

    June 9, 2024 @ 1:23 pm

    My brother used to like to say, "You can lead a horse to birds of a feather, but you can't make him laugh last."

  3. Yuval said,

    June 10, 2024 @ 1:37 am

    No mastery like Yes, Minister's
    – If I pull it off, it'll be a feather in my cap
    – If you pull it off, it won't be in your cap anymore

  4. DCBob said,

    June 10, 2024 @ 10:10 am

    Spare the rod and spoil the broth!

  5. Rodger C said,

    June 10, 2024 @ 10:23 am

    The horse is out of the bag, so let's grab the bull by the teeth and go for the jaguar!

  6. Vance Koven said,

    June 10, 2024 @ 2:15 pm

    Does the New Yorker (haven't read it in years) still run the little column-fillers called "Newsbreaks"? They used to have a subcategory that ran under the heading "Block That Metaphor!"

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