Step Up to the Plate and Lay Your Cards on the Table

Napkin Dad - Mixed Metaphors

Guest Blogger: Marty Coleman, The Napkin Dad

I am not a great writer. I get my grammar wrong, my sentence structure is sometimes caddywumpus and I definitely do not know proper punctuation. But I do know metaphors and analogies pretty well and it’s one of my great pleasures in life to read, hear or come up with good ones. But just as pleasurable is when I hear, read or come up with really bad ones.

Why is it so great to hear something so bad? Because it’s as if the world suddenly became an absurdist Looney Tunes cartoon with funny looking people and fractured language right in front of my eyes. I like things that make no sense whatsoever but still point to something that makes sense.

Most importantly, it makes me laugh and I like that.

What are YOUR favorite mixed metaphors?


Napkin Dad

Cartoon courtesy of “The Napkin Dad”

Marty Coleman, Photographer and Artist

See Marty Coleman’s photography

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  5. Peter DeHaan on October 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Here’s one: “If you never step up to the plate, you will have no chance to score a touchdown.”

  6. Carol J. Garvin on October 16, 2011 at 3:01 AM

    Then there’s, “If you want to soar like an eagle don’t count the chickens before they’re hatched.”

  7. Val Thevictorian on October 15, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    My friend used to say, “I know you like a book.”

    In return, I told her I could read her like the back of my hand. She didn’t get it.

  8. Elizabeth Everson on October 15, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Household faves:

    Your cookie crumbled, now go butter in it. (and variations)

    You made your bread, now go lie in it.

  9. otin on October 15, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    I always say: “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it would certainly ease my misery.”

  10. Jo on October 15, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    My husband deliberately used the phrase “there is more than one way to shuck a cat”.

  11. Kay Day on October 14, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    my husband says “you can’t lead a blind man to water.”

  12. Ruth Madison on October 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    “Only shooting stars break the mold”

    I can’t hear that song without twitching. My friends say I’m being way too sensitive. Actually, even a poetry teacher told me I was being too picky with that one!

  13. Regina Jennings on October 14, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    My husband was describing a confrontation with a co-worker – “But I took it with a grain of assault.”

    • Ruth Madison on October 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      Hahaha! I love that.

  14. marion on October 14, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Just put a sort of mixed metaphor in my WIP.

    The protagonist thinks of one character the crocodile.
    Paraphrased: She kissed me on both cheeks. Afterwards, I rubbed my cheeks the way you rub a place where an insect has stung you.
    But she was still the crocodile.

  15. Nicky Smith on October 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    From a recent workshop: “It had boiled down to the wire.”

    And while not mixed, still amusing: “…with the flush of a turnip.” I am fairly confident that it was supposed to be ‘beetroot’, but I’m not familiar with every variety of turnip out there 🙂

  16. joan Cimyotte on October 14, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    The grass is always greener as the crow flies.

  17. Carol Moncado on October 14, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Ha! Love it.

    Reminds me of Ziva David on NCIS. She never mixes stuff up ;).

    • Ruth Madison on October 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      Yes! And the bartender character in Boondock Saints does that too.

  18. Joe Pote on October 14, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Great title for a blog! We do hear these sorts of mix-ups often.

    A guy I used to work with, when referring to a diffcult task which had to be done, would say, “Come on people, it’s not rocket surgery!”

  19. Kevin Pashuk on October 14, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Thanks for the morning chuckle. This reminds me of the list “How to write good” that has been in circulation for years.

    I found a copy and posted it on my blog some weeks ago.


  20. Michael Seese on October 14, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    That’s funny. When I read the title of the post, my first thought was “Nice metaphor…NOT!”

    In the book I’m working on now, I just came up with the following. I’m not certain it’s exactly a metaphor. But what the heck. The setup is, my protagonist is going on a “mission,” and dons a Rastafarian costume as a disguise.

    “So, how do I look?” I asked, hoping that he would appreciate, if not remember, last year’s Halloween costume, which I now wore with great relish.

    “Ridiculous. Like an idea for one of the Village People, who was voted off the island.”

    • Anne Greenwood Brown on October 14, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      I like that he appears to have a glob of relish on his costume.

  21. Neil Ansell on October 14, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    ‘I smell a rat. I see it floating in the air. But I shall nip it in the bud.’
    Lloyd George, British politician.

  22. Neil Larkins on October 14, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    I’ve always liked a line from the song “Once in a Blue Moon” from the musical “Little Mary Sunshine.” (Our college theatrical troupe performed it the summer of ’64. Shows you how old I am…heh.)
    You made your bed a rolling stone and now the shoe won’t fit.
    You had your cake and should have known you’d have to lay in it

  23. Laura on October 14, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    My mother used to say “You’ve buttered your bread, now sleep in it!”

  24. Julie Daines on October 14, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    Haha! That’s great! I love the cartoon!