Thursday, December 24, 2009

A few amusing examples of mixed metaphors (5)

Mixed metaphors are often amusing, as these examples illustrate. However, we writers are usually more interested in informing and persuading our readers than in amusing them. Mixed metaphors may distract our readers and impede information and persuasion. Here are* a few amusing mixed metaphors:

Example of a mixed metaphor

Source: BBC News (website)

A December 8 article, “Irish Republic faces second tough budget in a year,” mixes a medicine metaphor with a cooking metaphor. But at least the author has mixed the metaphors consciously:

“If you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor, administering strong medicine to the sick patient that is the Irish economy is not a recipe for political success in the short term…”

Example of a mixed metaphor

Source: live dangerously be a conservative (blog)

A December 8 post, “Through the Window ala Looking Glass,” combines three metaphors in a single sentence:

“The parameters of the Overton Window are shifting in a kaleidoscopic fashion. As a mixed metaphor of sorts, we need to stop the kaleidoscope, throw open the sash and jump through the looking glass.”

Example of a mixed metaphor

Source: (website)

A December 11 article, “The Crystal Meth Economy,” contains one sentence with six metaphors:

“Optimism was given free rein to establish an entire hallucination economy, one based on ever-rising asset values pushed higher by ever-rising credit availability, itself a product of pyramiding values on spiraling government debt, laundered through a public treasury that strip-mined the savings of three generations.”

The Takeaway: Mixed metaphors may distract your readers. They may even make your prose impossible to understand. Ideally, you should have someone edit your copy (mixed metaphors are more easily spotted by the reader than by the writer).

*I selected these samples for the diction they contain, not the ideas they contain. On this blog, I am promoting no political position – unless you consider clarity a political position.

1 comment:

  1. As noted in the introduction to Metaphors Dictionary (Visible Ink Press) the late Theodore Bernstein dubbed these illogical comparisons Mixaphors and one of the most famous examples comes from no les than Shakespeare when his melancholy Dane Hamlet pondered whether "it's not nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms agains a sea of troubles. On the other hand, poet Babette Deutsch defended the metaphor as valid since she thought the text alluded to the Celtic warriors' custom of fighting waves with their swords drawn.