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 four examples of mixed metaphors:
“As she read more, disparate threads started clicking together…” (Source)
“ ‘Short-term, this is a lot tougher for Democrats than for us,’ said Republican pollster Wes Anderson, referencing polls showing immigration hurting Democratic incumbents across the country in 2014. ‘Long-term? I think Sen. (Marco) Rubio’s experience with the issue has taught most Republicans to tread very lightly into these waters.’ ” (Source)
“The first of three triggers we’ve been tracking has just flashed red.” (Source: a sales letter)
“Any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything. What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole…” (Source) (Boldface in original.)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.
Thanks to Paul G. Henning for pointing out the second example.