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A mixed-up metaphor

October 18, 2015

I always enjoy spotting a mixed-up metaphor. This is not the same as a mixed metaphor, where two or more ill-assorted metaphors are plonked side by side. It’s when bits of two metaphors are spliced together to form a single phrase. There was a nice example in the sports pages of today’s Observer. Writing of the feud between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, Daniel Taylor supports one of Mourinho’s claims against Wenger, but then goes on: “Mourinho is on thinner ground, however, when he argues…”

Thinner ground? This sounds sort of OK at first but does not really make sense. “Ground” isn’t the sort of stuff that we think of as being thin or thick. Taylor has conflated two different expressions here. Mourinho is either on thinner ice, or on less firm ground. A point to me for spotting that, I think.

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One Comment
  1. A colleague once talked about the problem of something ‘falling between two stones’.

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