Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.


DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: I was listening to a local radio talk show host who described an unexpected event as a “curve ball from left field.” I believe that is called a mixed metaphor. It made me start wondering if that sort of thing is more common than one would think. Have you encountered this? -Laura Carey, El Cajon

“The Communist menace is a snake in the grass that is gnawing away at the foundation of our ship of state” is a classic mixed metaphor from a student essay. “You’re biting the hand of the goose that laid the golden egg,” Hollywood mogul Sam Goldwyn once Goldwynized.

I never metaphor I didn’t like, and I never met a mixed metaphor I didn’t collect. I have a mind like a steel sieve, so I’m grabbing the bull by the tail, looking it straight in the eye and presenting the cream of the dregs of metaphors that just don’t add up:

  • The bankers’ pockets are bulging with the sweat of the honest workingman.
  • The sacred cows have come home to roost.
  • She was a diva of such immense talent that, after she performed, there was seldom a dry seat in the house.
  • We have buttered our bread, and now we have to sleep in it.
  • It’s frustrating to see President Trump mired in the limelight like a Goodyear Blimp lodged in the Lincoln Tunnel.
  • Bullish catalysts are in short supply, whereas newfound economic headwinds have given oil bears ample ammunition to keep prices on the back foot.
  • We are in a butt-ugly recession right now, but we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
  • We’ll just throw darts in the dark and let the chips fall where they may.
  • I plan to sit on the money for a while until I can get my feet on the ground.
  • Skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.
  • She’s offered to buy him an artificial leg, no strings attached.
  • Traditional music is music handed down by ear.
  • It’s just ham-fisted salami-slicing by the bean counters.
  • We traveled through remote Chinese villages where the hand of Westerners has never set foot.
  • Ernst van Dyk is literally running away with the wheelchair race.
  • She kept breaking through the glass ceiling, and that ruffled some feathers.
  • That really knocked the wind out of my socks!
  • There is more than one way to cook a goose.
  • These days, people are throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other.
  • The media report violent events, which leads others to become violent. It’s a vicious snowball.
  • This is not rocket surgery, you know.
  • You must put your foot down with a firm hand.
  • He minced no bones in talking about civil rights.
  • They pulled the plug out from under me.
  • It’s like beating the horse after the barn door has been closed.
  • Keep your ear to the grindstone.
  • Sometimes you’ve gotta stick your neck out on a limb.
  • Some people sail through life on a bed of roses like a knife slicing through butter.
  • Fish or get off the pot.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the tracks.
  • We are going to be shooting from the seat of our pants on this one.
  • Let’s jump off that bridge when we come to it.
  • He came through the experience smelling like a knight in shining armor.
  • Don’t put all your chickens in one basket.
  • Call a family meeting and get all the dirty dishwater ironed out.
  • She juggles a lot on her plate.
  • Please don’t sweep the dirty linen under the rug.
  • She’s burning the midnight oil at both ends.
  • It was so cold last night I had to throw another blanket on the fire.
  • She’s robbing Peter to pay the piper.

That nails it in a nutshell. When you boil it right down to brass tacks, it’s best to avoid mixing your metaphors.