Thursday, January 2, 2014
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. Here are a few examples of mixed metaphors:
“...going over the cliff was not off the table...” (Source)
“I saw no ray of hope. It looked to me as if the blue bird had thrown in the towel and formally ceased to function.” Wodehouse, of course, mixed metaphors for a living.
~P.G. Wodehouse, in Joy in the Morning
“Changing the culture and political landscape is hard; it takes patience, determination and an Army of Davids to gather steam to change the tide of injustice and prejudice against men that has been brewing now for more than forty years.” Gather steam to change a brewing tide? That’s all wet.
~Helen Smith, Ph.D., in Men on Strike
“When people talk about the rise of great TV, they inevitably credit one show, ‘The Sopranos.’ Even before James Gandolfini’s death, the HBO drama’s mystique was secure: novelistic and cinematic, David Chase’s auteurist masterpiece cracked open the gangster genre like a rib cage, releasing the latent ambition of television, and launching us all into a golden age.” (Source)
“Where do you stand on the moral compass?” My left foot is on north-northwest and my right foot is on north-northeast. My nose is pointed due north. Next question. (Source)
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.