Discovered this nifty website via Lone Gunman. A congruent conflation is an expression made, whether intentionally or otherwise, by jamming together two other expressions that have the same or similar meanings. So “you need to pull your socks together,” being an amalgamation of “pull your socks up” and “get your act together.” There are also incongruent conflations, where the expressions inexpertly welded didn’t mean the same thing in the first place; an example might be… “the elephant in the machine”  from “ghost in the machine” and “elephant in the room.” Mr. Lone Gunman seems to prefer the congruent variety; I like them both really, maybe the incongruent ones more because they tend to create weirder images.

This all reminds me of one of The Onion’s classic word-foolery articles, Idiom Shortage Leaves Nation All Sewed Up In Horse Pies:

A crippling idiom shortage that has left millions of Americans struggling to express themselves spread like tugboat hens throughout the U.S. mainland Tuesday in an unparalleled lingual crisis that now has the entire country six winks short of an icicle… “This is an absolute oyster carnival,” said Harvard University linguistics professor Dr. Howard Albright, who noted that the 2008 idiom shortage has been the country’s worst. “I don’t know any other way to describe it.”

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