Thursday, June 2, 2016

Block that metaphor

A CNN anchor:

“. . . and Bernie Sanders nipping at her toes.”

Make that heels . The newsperson was probably led astray by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells: “Jack Frost nipping at your nose.” Not toes .

But would nipping at heels be much of an improvement? George Orwell: “there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.” Exactly.

Related reading
All OCA metaphor posts (Pinboard)

comments: 5

The Arthurian said...

This is why I read your stuff. If you can manage to be interesting about metaphors, maybe I can learn to be interesting about the economy.

Michael Leddy said...

Oh, I think any subject can be interesting if it’s in good hands. These awful figures of speech just jump out at me when I watch the news. It’s like having a Geiger counter.

Slywy said...

I'm not a fan of Stephen King novels (I tried one and fell asleep on page 2). (Just his books; he seems like a nice guy.) I saw a passage from one of his books where a weasel or some other mustelid was "gnawing" at something. Mustelids are carnivores. They don't gnaw like a rodent or lagomorph. They tear or rip, but they don't chew. I volunteered at the zoo for too many years. :)

Michael Leddy said...

I’d guess that the figure of speech has to do with dogs, yes? I’ve read that cats can also nip at heels.

Slywy said...

I've had a dog nip at my heels. I've had a cat tear off a chunk of my inner thigh. Dog supposedly gnaw on rawhide, but if you watch it's not really gnawing. Beavers gnaw.

What a strange word. Gnaw.