Monday, October 4, 2010

A few amusing examples of mixed metaphors (9)

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.

Example of a mixed metaphor

In PCWorld magazine, Harry McCracken writes, “Apologies in advance for the mixed metaphor: For many years, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has been a sleeping giant that’s marched to its own drummer.”

Example of a mixed metaphor

A sports reporter in the United Kingdom uses a neat mixed metaphor: “He took to Arsenal’s midfield like a duck to the slaughter (that’s for those who like a bit of mixed metaphor with their football punditry)…”

Example of a mixed metaphor

A recent employment ad in craigslist begins, “Local Vermont magazine seeking freelance writers from Vermont for specific Vermont-oriented assignements [sic]. Must possess a strong voice, and the ability to wade through vanilla material to capture the heart of a story.” (Boldface added.) One hopes the magazine is also hiring a copy editor.

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).

See disclaimer.

1 comment:

  1. I like the duck to slaughter one.

    You have to make it obvious to the reader that you are knowingly mixing metaphors as a way of being funny, or avoid altogether. That said, a single metaphor image can concisely encapsulate a volume of dull prose.