Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mangled Metaphors

These mangled metaphors have been sighted on blog posts, Facebook and Twitter. Falsely touted as coming from actual student essays, they are really part of the Washington Post's "Style Invitational," a long-running writers forum.

Not that published literature isn't rife with malodorous metaphors - just look at Stieg Larsson's best-selling trilogy starting with, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Main character, Mikael Blomkvist, has many great lines but one of my favorites is, "Martin was dafter than a syphilitic polecat..." But what can you expect from a character who states, "Sex has nothing to do with friendship."

And if you want some 'lines' that will get the attention of that 'significant other' in your life, have you tried:

  • I love you like a fat kid loves cake.
  • It's harder to pick your brain than it is a broken nose.
  • It will take a big tractor to plow the fertile fields of your mind.
  • I appreciate you more than an extra slice of bacon on a BLT.
  • You look about as happy as a penguin in a microwave.
  • You're like a couch potato in the gravy boat of life.
  • You and I are like branches on a tree. But sometimes one branch needs to die so the tree can live.

Okay, so maybe you'll want to hold off on using some of these lines if you want your relationship to last...

Here are some of the winners from the Style Invitational. Can you top these?

1. She grew on him like a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature
Canadian beef.

2. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

3. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently
compressed by a Thigh Master.

4. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like
underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just
before it throws up.

6. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

7. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any PH cleanser.

8. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

9. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie,
surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy
comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

10. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

11. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry
them in hot grease.

12. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had
also never met.

13. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one
that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

14. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

15. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this
plan just might work.

16. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating
for a while.

17. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a
real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or

18. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg
behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

19. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with
power tools.

20. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if
she were a garbage truck backing up.


  1. Oh my....
    That's hilarious and bizarre all at the same time. I'm never ever going to be able to look at penguins, people with oval faces or ballerinas the same... not to mention a number of the other things mentioned here.
    (Wait a minute... I have an oval face!! Opps!! Guess it's time to put that Thigh Master into storage!!) ;)

  2. Well, it's no wonder everyone mixes their metaphors - especially when most of them are similes (a comparison of two unlike objects with like or as or than, etc.). Don't even get me started.:)

  3. Joy - why were those Thigh Masters so popular in the first place... People have obviously been using them in all the wrong places.

    Go ahead, Methodius, let it rip. Haven't had a good rant from you on people who can't distinguish between metaphors, similes and trope (not to be confused with tromp or trample :)

  4. This is my third visit to here and my fourth time reading through them. They are just wrong.

    Do happen to wonder though, did said author actually fry up a platter of maggots to be able to render that comparison?

  5. Jedi-Gene, I would hope the author went for authenticity and actually fried the maggots for an accurate comparison. Sadly, not all authors are such stickler's for detail...