creative modifications of idiomatic expressions

Mark Worden mworden at WIZZARDS.NET
Fri Mar 21 20:26:15 UTC 2003

A woman's not always a woman but a good cigar is a horse of another feather.
--Walt Kelley (Pogo) [ It may have been -- A woman is always a woman // but
it's fractured from a Kipling line nd a proverb]

Many Goldwynisms seem to fit, straight from the lions mouth.
"This makes me sore, it gets my dandruff up."

Similar to Yogi Berra's (mostly institutionalised) malapropisms in his book:
When You Come to a Fork in the Road Take It! by Yogi Berra with Dave Kaplan
(Hyperion) viz:
"Ninety percent of the game is half mental"
 "You can observe a lot by watching"
 "Its déjà vu all over again"
 "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore"
 "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Google sports malapriopisms and you'll get a ton of these.

Quark out
Lower Umpqua Addictive Conundrum Institute

> Poster:       "Mark A. Mandel" <mamandel at UNAGI.CIS.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      creative modifications of idiomatic expressions
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This is from LINGUIST List 14-830. If you have a helpful comment, please
> be sure to send it to the inquirer (rsaulyte at as well as to the
> list.
> -- Mark A. Mandel
>    Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania
>         >>>>>
>   Message 2: Idiomatic Expressions
>    Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 15:49:09 +0200 (GMT+02:00)
>    From: ruta saulyte <rsaulyte at>
>    Subject: Idiomatic Expressions
> Dear linguists,
> I am doing some research on the creative modifications of idiomatic
> expressions. I mean those modifications which are not
> institutionalized. These expressions may be creatively modified (or
> exploited, as some scholars call this phenomenon) by replacing one
> word or the whole expression with a synonym, by adding a new term, by
> substituting an item by a homophone, by implying both the idiomatic
> and the literal meanings in that specific context, etc.....Some
> examples would be : "You can take an alcoholic to the psychriatist,
> but you can't stop him drinking" out of "You can take a horse to the
> water, but you can't make it drink". "Every silver lining has a
> cloud"; "tawdriness is in the eye of the beholder"; "my lips are
> zipped" out of "my lips are sealed"......  The expressions that come
> out of these changes (the modified versions) normally do not become
> institutionalized, and therefore they do not appear in
> dictionaries. They represent an occasional and creative use of these
> fixed expressions.
> I wonder if anyone knows where (newspapers, magazines, books....) I
> can find these type of expressions.
> Thanks in advance,
> Ruta Saulyte

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