Mitts On or Off?

Journalists seeking to comment wittily on the attacks being made by his rivals on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are finding the pun “The Mitts are off” irresistible.

The Last Word Blog on msn.com

Mara Liasson on National Public Radio

Ron Fournier in the National Journal

It’s true that “mitt” originated as an abbreviation of “mitten.” But the saying which equates mitts with fists in a boxing match is "put up your mitts,” not “take off your mitts.”

The journalists are cross-pollinating this saying with “the gloves are off,” as in bare-knuckle boxing.

If you know both sayings, you can catch the intended pun. Of course it’s Romney himself who is most fiercely attacking Newt Gingrich, so Mitt himself is “on,” not ”off.”

So the pun is a little “off.”

But in headlines catchy wordplay often trumps logic.

("Trumps." Get it?)

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