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Second-degree idioms

Recently, The Girlfriend claimed that she needed to “get her ducks in a row” with regard to a large project. As she worked on that, I periodically checked in to see how her “duck alignment” was going, which she found pretty funny.

It occurs to me that second-degree idioms of this kind have great comedic potential. Perhaps we can think of more.


August 19, 2010 - Posted by | language


  1. Someone who really needed to “get back on the horse” might work up to it with a dress rehorsal.

    Comment by k-sky | August 19, 2010

  2. See, I don’t think that fits, k-sky–“dress rehorsal” is more of a pun. If I am understanding Kotsko correctly, he would be looking for something more akin to “horse remounting”.

    Comment by transportinburma | August 19, 2010

  3. Yes, transportinburma does accurately capture my intention.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 19, 2010

  4. My wife and I have explored this avenue of humor as well. I’m trying to think of ones we’ve done and all I can come up with right away is referring to something being “stuck in my craw” and then later saying that I was happy because I was able to clear out my craw.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | August 19, 2010

  5. Similarly: Earlier today on chat Brad described something as seamless and then said, “There’s nothing I hate more than seams.”

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 19, 2010

  6. Once, when trying to figure out if something would be a big deal, I said I was trying to “assess the deal’s magnitude.”

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 19, 2010

  7. “This is straight from the horse’s mouth. So once you wipe it off and clean it up, I think you’ll find it’s correct.”

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | August 19, 2010

  8. Adam has discovered extended metaphors!

    Comment by ben | August 19, 2010

  9. Maybe a bridge too far, bridge not-so-far, bridge-kinda-near, etc.
    How about smooth as a baby’s bottom, smooth as a middle-schooler’s bottom? Too soon?

    Comment by Stephen | August 19, 2010

  10. Aside: Holy shit it’s been ages since I’ve logged into my wordpress account. You can “like” posts here now?

    Comment by transportinburma | August 19, 2010

  11. 8. I heard a loud bang. Ah yes, that closed the door!

    Comment by Earnest O'Nest | August 20, 2010

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