Thursday, January 3, 2013

A few amusing examples of mixed metaphors (14)

Mixed metaphors can be amusing. 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.


In an email alert from The Wall Street Journal, we see: “Contours of McConnell/Biden Budget Deal Emerging.”


Here’s a really messy mixed metaphor, from the song “Women’s Rights vs. Harmony” by Russell Lindquist:

There is a poisonous pendulum,
swinging by myths of dichotomy and zero-sum.
It will swing forever,unless those favored – WHILE favored –
choose to end the pendulum.


The British humorist P.G. Wodehouse (pictured, at his Monarch typewriter) was a master of the intentionally mixed metaphor. My favorite: In Hot Water, a viscountess who was evasive about the condition of her chateau “kept a leaky cistern under her hat.” See also here.

The Takeaway: Mixed metaphors can distract your readers. In some cases, they make your prose impossible to understand. Ideally, you should have someone edit your copy, because it is difficult to spot your own mixed metaphors.

See disclaimer.

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