10.03.2012

Walk and Roll

Recently I heard someone on the radio say of something hard to do that it was not just “a roll in the park,” mixing up the two very different expressions “a roll in the hay” with “a walk in the park.” She might also have meant to say "a stroll in the park," though that’s not the most common form of the expression.

When two expressions collide, the results can be amusing. I list several others on my “More Errors” page, none of them quite as funny as this one, but here they are:

“Cast in stone” (“cast in concrete” plus “carved in stone”).

“Off the deep edge” (“off the deep end” plus “over the edge”).

“On the same hand” (“on the other hand” plus “by the same token”).

“Pin a finger” (“pin the blame on” plus “point a finger at”).

“Worth its weight in salt” (“worth its salt” plus “worth its weight in gold”).

“Face the piper” (“face the music” plus “pay the piper”).

Keep  your ears open and let me know if you hear other examples.

Ben Zimmer wrote a good column on this sort of "idiom blend" back in 2008.

He also referred me to the Conflation Web site. It has a lot of very funny examples.

2 comments:

Gladlylearn said...

A few hundred years ago gold and salt were traded at equal value in th Gold Coast of Africa. Salt was not readily available there and was essential to food preservation, but as the name testifies, there was plenty of gold. In that place and time, gold was worth its weight in salt.

Waynette Porter said...

When my son, my husband and I all go to the park to enjoy the beautfy of nature, it is a walk in the park for my guys. For me, since I am in a wheelchair, it IS a roll in the park. I know I occasionally get my words twisted and say I am out for a walk in the park while they're having a roll in the park.