Thursday 17 March 2011

Mixed Metaphors Part Three

Avoid mixing fire and water metaphors - floods and waves can’t be sparked.

It was gutted by a fire that left three millions of damage in its wake (Try “a fire caused three million of damage”.)

Today Morrissey reignites a simmering row… Alexandra Topping Guardian Sep 4 10 He could bring it back to the boil if it’s simmering, but not ignite it unless it’s petrol.

a turning point in attacking the fungus of "boiler-plate" (The UK Corporate Governance Code)
Sebastian Coe, who has won gold medals in the past for running, now wins another for this line in his platitude-rich autobiography The Winning Mind: “There are times when there is a need to dig deep and find another gear – while never losing sight of the bigger picture.” (via Lucy Kellaway in the FT Jan 2011)

a discrepancy that rams home the continuing gulf between the City and the rest of us (emphasises)

Add another bow to his string Guardian Oct 2 10 (Bows have strings, not the other way round.)

bone china rolls hot off the kiln (The Times gets over-excited about Wills and Kate souvenirs Nov 18 10)

combing for talent with a fine toothbrush (You go through things with a fine-toothed comb.)

Confine “sear” to things that can sear, eg “searing heat”. “Searing hunger” is nonsensical.

Doubt was sown = the seeds of doubt were sown, or doubts were raised

heaped for steeped This place is heaped in tradition. BBC news Oct 9 10

If such a huge link in the corrupt chain as the city of Moscow is tinkered with, the entire state edifice might come tumbling down. (It’s a chain with one huge link. How do you tinker with a link? If your tinkering breaks the link, the chain will break – was it holding up the edifice?

It’s good to see Gyllenhaal throwing away “that dark cloud of anxiety and moral seriousness that usually hangs over him like a halo”. Philip French, Obs Jan 2011

Riders tilt at nude rollercoaster record (How about “try for”?)

silver bullet for magic bullet (a silver bullet kills a werewolf; Salvarsan was the “magic bullet” that killed the organisms that cause syphilis)

The grass roots have got plenty to chew over. BBC Breakfast October 5, 2010

the trappings of power are thin Andrew Grice Indy March 2011 (Does he think it means something like “wrappings”?)

They've got other things on their mind, like paying for their children's college fees, and running their family's purse strings. BBC Oct 22 10 (You keep a tight hold on the purse strings because they hold the purse shut. You run your family finances.)

will move heaven and high water to... (Combines “will move heaven and earth” with “come Hell or high water”.)

More here at

More mixed metaphors and garbled cliches here, here, here and here.

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