Monday, April 19, 2010

A few amusing examples of mixed metaphors (7)

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: The Economist print edition

A November 26, 2009 article, “The Federal Reserve under attack,” includes this:

“POPULISTS and bankers have been at odds since America’s earliest days. Its first two central banks were shuttered in the 19th century in part because of their perceived closeness to financiers. In the wake of the financial crisis those tensions have bubbled back to the surface. The central bank is again in the cross hairs.” (Boldface added.)

Example of a mixed metaphor

Source: WalesOnline

An April 12 article, “We’ll create thousands of jobs for Wales, vows Hain,” includes this:

“Reflecting on the first week of campaigning, [Welsh Secretary Peter Hain] said: ‘… we are moving up a gear to start scoring shots in our opponents’ goals.’ ” (Boldface added.)

Example of a mixed metaphor

Source: The New Yorker

A good friend who is an avid reader told me that the New Yorker used to publish amusing mixed metaphors that its editors had gathered from other magazines and from newspapers and speeches. This undated example is one of my friend’s favorites:

“The mayor has a heart as big as the Sahara for protecting ‘his’ police officers, and that is commendable. Unfortunately, he also often strips his gears by failing to engage the clutch when shifting what emanates from his brain to his mouth. The bullets he fires too often land in his own feet.” (Boldface added.)

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).

Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to show and explain examples of clear and unclear writing and speech. Accordingly, I select examples for the diction they contain (occasionally for the amusement they provide), not the ideas they express. I promote no religion and no political position – unless you consider clarity a political position.

1 comment:

  1. It's too bad that there's not a mandatory license for writers/journalists/ all read "Elements of Style" and to prove they understand it, before they can write...sigh ;)