Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A few amusing examples of mixed metaphors (3)

Mixed metaphors are often amusing to readers, as these examples illustrate. However, we writers are usually more interested in informing and persuading our readers than in amusing our readers. Mixed metaphors get in the way of information and persuasion by distracting our readers from our topic.

When we do employ humor, it should be intentional and relevant to the topic – as opposed to mixed metaphors, which are unintentional and irrelevant.

Here are a few recent examples of mixed metaphors from the press:


In a September 15 column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"In what passes for 'conservatism' nowadays, however, Republican leaders in Congress and right-wing media figures seem to intent on riding – and sometimes sewing – the winds of hate."


In a September 20 guest editorial in The Toronto Star:

"Unfortunately for Layton, the Liberal wind abruptly changed direction last month in Sudbury and he has been caught with his pants down."


In a September 26 “Errors & Omissions” column in The Independent (UK):

“Mixed metaphor of the week: This is from an article on Thursday about Tony Blair and his prospects for the European Union presidency: ‘Blair is unwilling to launch a public campaign in a forum in which the favourite all too often falls at the last fence.’

“The original forum was the market place of ancient Rome, where the law courts sat. Hence, a place for argument and debate. There are no horse races in a forum.”

The Takeaway: When editing your own copy, watch carefully for mixed metaphors. Better yet, ask someone to edit your copy. For some reason, others can spot our mixed metaphors much more easily than we can.


  1. Ever since you started posting about mixed metaphors, I see/hear them everywhere! Just the other day, someone in a meeting said "smoking the coolaid" and I thought of you... after I visualized a man in a business suit and tie unwrapping freeze-dried cool-aid and rolling into an EZ-rider...

    Thank you for helping me improve my writing, and often making me laugh!

  2. Hello Deb,

    You are welcome. Nothing makes this old editor and new blogger happier than knowing he's helping writers.

    And, say, the example you reported is a great one.

    Joe Roy