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[[quoteright:243:[[Webcomic/SluggyFreelance http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mangled_metaphors_502.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:243:Whatever they're about to do, she's burned up for it.]]

->'''Omi:''' He who is to be laughing last, laughs most loudly!\\
'''Raimundo:''' What Omi did to that sentence is what we're going to do to you!
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown''

Beyond simple language structure are the aspects of figurative language: idioms, metaphors, similes, and other things that go beyond exact word meanings in a sentence. This trope is when a character will screw up such terms. This can range from using the word word in a term, to getting the whole meaning wrong.

The two most common causes are when a character is a non-native speaker of a language (if not an outright FunnyForeigner), is very LiteralMinded, or came from {{Cloudcuckooland}}.

This is usually PlayedForLaughs. A ThreatBackfire is a possible result of this.

This can even happen when the non-native speaker tries to use idioms from that character's language, and it loses its meaning in the translation.

In {{real|life}}ity, it is not unusual for this to be caused by [[BlindIdiotTranslation literal translation]] from a known language, such as [[http://forum.wordreference.com/showpost.php?p=5940271&postcount=10 "having one's ass circled in noodles"]] (though, simple misunderstandings are also a frequent cause of this trope). But in TV Land, it's more often done by taking an existing expression from a language/culture different from the character's and replacing its words with synonyms from the ''same language'', something highly improbable in real life, but is excused due to RuleOfFunny.

The misspeaker isn't always the sole butt of the joke, though; often, such gags highlight how ridiculous and/or arbitrary the idioms are in the first place. Why can something be "a piece of cake" or "as easy as pie", but vice versa sounds utterly ridiculous?

A SisterTrope to LiteralMetaphor (where an unlikely event ''sounds'' like a mangled metaphor).

Compare MixedMetaphor, {{Malaproper}}, ExpospeakGag, SidetrackedByTheAnalogy, and EitherWorldDominationOrSomethingAboutBananas, BuffySpeak.

Not to be confused with WeaponsGradeVocabulary, though both may seem to be physically painful at times.



* A commercial for IBM's Watson has two sportscasters talking about a player's skill, and one asks Watson for his statistical take. The computer says the player can hit a jump shot "from a densely populated urban area". One of them clarifies that he means "from way downtown," and Watson says he's still learning

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* On an {{Omake}} of ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', [[HugeSchoolgirl Isane Kotetsu]] and [[MadScientistsBeautifulDaughter Nemu Kurotsuchi]] were assigned to take pictures of Byakuya. While Nemu was taking the pictures, she was saying "Butter" instead of "Cheese" ([[LampshadeHanging which Isane mentioned to her]]). This exact same one also turned up with Lens Banki in ''Series/EngineSentaiGoOnger''.
* Angol Mois of ''Manga/SgtFrog'' has a habit of appending her sentences with ''yojijukugo'' (Japanese idioms composed of four ''kanji'' characters) that are almost, but not quite, appropriate for the situation. One episode has her taking ''tuition'' for this.
* Hermes, a talking motorcycle from ''LightNovel/KinosJourney'', seems to have this problem a lot (examples include "Vanity is not for the sake of Mothers" and "When in Rome do as tigers do")
* Yuki Nagato in the ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'' franchise.
-->'''Kyon:''' "I don't really have a [[{{Meganekko}} glasses fetish]] anyway."\\
'''Yuki:''' "What is a glasses fetish?"
-->'''Kyon:''' "No way!"\\
'''Yuki:''' "Way."
** That second one is strictly a translator gag- Kyon says "Uso!" (lit. "a lie") and Yuki answers "Sou" (lit. "it is so"). "Sou" is practically Yuki's CatchPhrase.
** It also qualifies as TotallyRadical, having been the cool way to speak during the late Bush-/early Clinton-era. Not so sure it fits here as a result, though.
* Nia in ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann''. [[spoiler: Sure, she rejected Simon when he asked her for marriage, because he wanted to become "one with her" and two people can't be physically merged…]] Which is funny considering that [[Creator/HyndenWalch her English VA]] (pre-time skip) is the same as Starfire mentioned below.
* Lemmy from ''VisualNovel/ToHeart'' is constantly messing up Japanese phrases.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In Creator/AlanMoore's comic ''ComicBook/TomStrong'', a Russian science hero, as well as Tesla's volcano-man boyfriend Val, constantly mess up all sorts of figures of speech. The titular character was raised in a gravity chamber - the Russian refers to it as the "tank of seriousness".
* Comicbook/{{Hawkman}} (the alien version) can have this problem, DependingOnTheWriter. In one story he remarks that Comicbook/GreenArrow looks like "death reheated", causing GA to explain the phrase is "death warmed over".
* From a Franchise/{{Batman}} comic:
--> '''Thug:''' This is a crime family. A syndicate. You're the top dog on the pyramid and we're all the little fish on the bottom rung of the totem pole.

* Officer Lenina Huxley of ''Film/DemolitionMan'' [[{{Malaproper}} commits an idiomatic screwup]] practically every minute, most of them having to do with her love of 20th Century American culture. Even considering the mass sanitation of culture inflicted upon the future Los-- ahem, ''San'' Angelinos by their [[MoralGuardians Moral Guardian mayor,]] many of her malapropisms simply defy belief.
-->'''Huxley:''' Why don't you take your job, and shovel it.\\
'''John Spartan:''' "Take this job and shovel it"? Close enough.
** And earlier in the film, this classic:
--> '''Huxley:''' "Let's blow this guy."\\
'''John Spartan:''' "''Away.'' Blow this guy ''away!''."
** And later:
-->'''Huxley:''' "Simon Phoenix really matched his meat! You really licked his ass!"\\
'''Spartan:''' ''[relatively calm expression]'' "Huxley?\\
'''Huxley:''' "Yes?"\\
'''Spartan:''' "That's '''met''' his match, and kicked, '''kicked''' his ass."
* In ''Film/TwoThousandTenTheYearWeMakeContact'', a Russian cosmonaut says, "It's a piece of pie," whereupon an American astronaut corrects him: "Cake." Later, the same cosmonaut says, "It's as easy as cake," only to be corrected once again: "Pie."
* In the ''Film/ShortCircuit'' movies, it's surprisingly not [[RidiculouslyHumanRobots Number Five]] who has this problem, but rather the wacky Indian sidekick Ben:
--> "I have to go to the jack."\\
"I am sick of wearing the dress in this family."\\
[Howard] "Don't tell me its laser is still armed." [Ben] "Bimbo."\\
"Keep that power on or I'll beat the living headlights out of you!"\\
"Newton Crosby, let us break wind!" Meaning he wants them run away.
** However, Johnny 5 ''does'' exhibit this in ''Short Circuit 2'' after [[spoiler:he is brutally attacked by the bad guys]]...
--> "Piece of corn! Can of cake! ''Suck doup...''"
* In ''Film/BackToTheFuture'' and sequels, Biff does this a lot. His most frequent is "Make like a tree and get outta here" [[note]] (DopeSlap) It's LEAVE, you IDIOT! Make like a tree, and LEAVE. You sound like a damn fool when you say it wrong![[/note]] English isn't his second language though, he's just a dumb side of beef. Even his older self gets fed up with his butcherings of idioms.
* Drax the Destroyer from ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'' has trouble understanding metaphors. He also doesn't understand the 'finger slicing throat' gesture.
-->'''Rocket:''' Metaphors are gonna go over his head. \\
'''Drax:''' Nothing goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast, and I would catch it.
** Drax later uses this as a PreMortemOneLiner by ''saying'' "Finger across throat means death" before killing someone.
** Later in the movie, Quill mentions [[Film/{{Footloose}} a city full of people with "sticks up their butts"]] to Gamora. Gamora then asks him who did such a thing as she believes it's unnecessary cruelty.

* Occurs often in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''. Pratchett, as a rule, is very, very fond of overanalysing idioms and taking things literally.
** Ankh-Morporkians in particular are infamous for their literal-mindedness when it comes to metaphors, and former ruler Olaf Quimby II even wrote a law requiring all metaphors to be able to be made literal. The law still exists, and the current ruler enforces it in order to keep that sort of people occupied. In Quimby's memory, the Morporkians still say "the pen is mightier than a sword" with the addition, "but only if the pen is very sharp and sword very small". Apparently the king had demanded an unusually smart poet to prove the phrase on himself.
** Archchancellor Ridcully. From ''Lords and Ladies'':
-->"Using a metaphor with Ridcully was like waving a red flag in front of -- like [[BuffySpeak showing something very annoying to a person who was annoyed by it]]."
** Captain Carrot is a six-foot-tall [[OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame dwarf]] who has inherited his (adopted) race's understanding of such things as irony ("sort of like iron"). Upon first arriving in Ankh-Morpork in ''Discworld/GuardsGuards!'', when instructed to "charge these men" he rushes at them [[DualWielding wielding an axe in each hand]] and screaming the ancient Dwarf battlecry "NEE-NAW-NEE-NAW". In the same book, he's told to "throw the book at him" and [[ThrowTheBookAtThem the thrown book smacks the target on the head]], knocking him over a ledge to his DisneyVillainDeath. He seems to have mostly gotten over this in later appearances.
** Also the rogue Auditor Myria [=LeJean=] (a.k.a. Unity).
-->'''Myria:''' Oh. They [Wienrich & Boettcher] make chocolate?\\
'''Susan:''' Does a bear poo in the woods?\\
''[Lady [=LeJean=] looked thoughtful for a moment.]''\\
'''Myria:''' Yes, I believe that most varieties do indeed excrete as you suggest, at least in the temperate zones, but there are several that-\\
'''Susan:''' I meant to say that, yes, they make chocolate.
** The Auditors in general take this trope UpToEleven. For instance, when asked "Can I offer you a drink?" an Auditor will respond that yes, it does believe you are capable of making that request.
** From ''Discworld/ThiefOfTime'', an exchange between Wen the Eternally Surprised and not-too-bright apprentice Clodpool.
--> '''Wen:''' But I will teach you how to deal with time as you would a coat, to be worn when necessary and discarded when not.\\
'''Clodpool:''' [[SidetrackedByTheAnalogy Will I have to wash it?]]\\
'''Wen:''' ''(stares at him for a bit)'' [[SeeminglyProfoundFool That was either a very complex piece of thinking on your part, Clodpool,]] [[LampshadeHanging or you were just trying to overextend a metaphor in a very stupid way]].
** Even Death himself runs into this trope. In ''Discworld/ReaperMan'', upon being told that "diamonds are a girl's best friend", he sets off to rob a particularly large one from the Lost Temple of Doom of Offler the Crocodile God. It leads to some shenanigans with the High Priest, the other priest who was not high, and Indiana Jones jokes.
* Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill of ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'': Being an alien, metaphors don't really work well with him. He has a tendency to take instructions literally, which, combined with him being in public in human morph, makes for some very funny situations. (He also has a notable fascination with pronouncing things, as in his original form he has no mouth and communicates telepathically. Hence the repeated syllables.)
-->'''Ax:''' Spicy, right? This flavour-or-or-is called spicy?\\
'''Rachel:''' Yeah, it's spicy. Hot, too.\\
'''Ax:''' Yes, the temperature is hot. Hot-tuh.\\
'''Rachel:''' No, I meant the flavour is hot. The temperature too, though. Skip it.\\
'''Ax:''' Skip?\\
'''Rachel:''' Uh, no. Forget it. Drop it.\\
''No sooner were those last words out of my mouth than I regretted them. Ax promptly dropped the container of refried beans he'd been holding. It landed wrong side down on the table.''
** Another personal favorite with Ax, when he attends a school dance:
--->'''Marco:''' That girl is warm for your form. She wants your body.\\
'''Ax:''' I would like to shuffle my artificial hooves to the music with you. But you cannot have my body. My bo. Dee.
*** Perhaps "she wants your body" was not the best phrase to use in a series where the villains are literal [[GrandTheftMe body-snatchers]] in the first place.
* In the book ''2010'', one of the American astronauts makes a joke about how the tiny quarters are more like sixteenths. Naturally, it has to be explained.
* ''Literature/{{Dragonback}}'': Draycos' response to metaphors is practically a running gag.
-->'''Draycos''': Pardon?\\
'''Jack''': Skip it.
** You'd think Draycos would catch on a little quicker, being a poet and all.
* The alien character Eve in the ''VideoGame/BlasterMaster'' book by F.X. Nine often mangles popular catch phrases. Jason usually figures them out quickly, though, and corrects her.
-->'''Eve''': We're about to become Social Studies!\\
'''Jason''': ...you mean History.
* The viewpoint character of ''[[Literature/TheCuriousIncidentOfTheDogInTheNightTime The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time]]'' has severe Asperger's Syndrome, and points out metaphors and idioms because he can't figure out what they mean. He knows the theory, if not how to apply it, but despises figurative language together with [[Film/GalaxyQuest all other kinds of lies]].
* The eponymous main character of the children's series ''Literature/AmeliaBedelia'' is ''very'' literal minded. If you ask her to dress the chicken, you will receive a fowl wearing a very cute dress. If you ask her to watch for the fork in the road, she will quite diligently keep an eye out for said utensil lying in the roadway. And so on.
* Literature/DonQuixote: Subverted with the Biscayan, who is another of the many {{Victimized Bystander}}s Don Quixote will find in his adventures. He talks exclusively in this fashion when he engages with Don Quixote in a duel to the death. Even with that, Don Quixote understands him perfectly:
-->One of the squires in attendance upon the coach, a Biscayan, was listening to all Don Quixote was saying, and, perceiving that he would not allow the coach to go on, but was saying it must return at once to El Toboso, he made at him, and seizing his lance addressed him in bad Castilian and worse Biscayan after his fashion, "Begone, caballero, and ill go with thee; by the God that made me, unless thou quittest coach, slayest thee as art here a Biscayan."\\
Don Quixote understood him quite well, and answered him very quietly, "If thou wert a knight, as thou art none, I should have already chastised thy folly and rashness, miserable creature." To which the Biscayan returned, "I no gentleman!—I swear to God thou liest as I am Christian: if thou droppest lance and drawest sword, soon shalt thou see thou art carrying water to the cat: Biscayan on land, hidalgo at sea, hidalgo at the devil, and look, if thou sayest otherwise thou liest."
* Professor Abraham Van Helsing in ''Literature/{{Dracula}}'':
-->'''Van Helsing:''' Well, the milk that is spilt cries not out afterwards, as you say.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': The Fae are prone to this. Asking one to "watch my back" will probably have them ask you to lean forward in your chair so they can see it. Particularly old wizards have been known to do it too, as a result of age-inflicted cultural disassociation. When "DrinkingTheKoolAid" is used, Arthur Langtry needs to be reminded of the Jonestown mass suicide, which happened in his lifetime.
* In ''Literature/CountToTheEschaton'', Menelaus is a little careless in his speech to Oenoe, a member of a race genetically engineered to be [[AnythingThatMoves sexually omnivorous]]:
-->'''Menelaus''': "And if that happens, I'll be royally screwed."\\
'''Oenoe''': "Congratulations!"
* In ''Literature/{{Rihannsu}}: The Empty Chair'' the ''Enterprise'' crew is working closely with a renegade Romulan crew. The other side has been provided with [[TranslatorMicrobes universal translators]] but at one point one of the ''Enterprise'' crew uses an idiom that the UT apparently translated literally, which confuses the Romulan. Uhura complains that she's going to have to adjust the UT's idiom filter again.
* ''Literature/TheFlightEngineer: The Independent Command'' uses a similar gag with an English-to-Fibian computerized translator (it's the first time the Commonwealth and the Fibians have had peaceful interactions with each other). One of the humans asks the Fibians to "cut us some slack" in the event of any social faux pas, which mightily confuses the Fibian ("How does one cut looseness?"). Peter Raeder calls it like it is: one of those expressions that has long been divorced from what it originally referred to.
* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': Annala is such a bookworm that she can use the metaphors from many and diverse cultures ''correctly''. She understands the cultural underpinnings for them and uses them in the proper context. This comes in handy during the global politicking of ''Literature/ManaMutationMenace''.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'':
** Spock is famous for taking metaphors literally:
*** For example, asking "Why would I aim for the broad side of a barn?"
*** (After hearing the song ''Row, Row, Row Your Boat'') "Life is not a dream."
*** Incorrectly, the hell, using swear words in ''Star Trek IV''. He was trying the hell to communicate. He also the hell doesn't understand that "The hell I will" means the opposite of "I will."
*** "We are chasing... not wild aquatic fowl."
*** "Are you sure it isn't time for a colorful metaphor?"
*** ''Film/{{Star Trek IV|The Voyage Home}}'':
---->'''Dr. Taylor''': Are you sure you won't change your mind?\\
'''Spock''': Is there something wrong with the one I have?
** It's not just Spock, either, especially when the crew time travels (figuratively or literally):
--->'''Scotty:''' You mind your place, mister, or you'll... you'll be wearin' ''concrete galoshes.''\\
'''Krako:''' ...You mean cement overshoes?\\
'''Disgruntled guy in car:''' Hey, why don't ya watch where you're going, ya dumb-ass!
---> '''Kirk:''' Well, a double dumb-ass on you!
** Data in ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'':
*** This is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in the pilot, as Picard asks "Data, how can you be programmed as a virtual encyclopedia of human information without knowing a simple word like 'snoop'?"
*** A good case occurs in the finale, a [[TimeTravel Time Trouble]] episode back to the beginning (among others...), where Data overhears another character discuss "burning the midnight oil." He not only suggests it's a bad idea -- it would set off fire-suppression systems -- but, once he learns what it means, suggests to Picard that to do the work needed he would be "igniting the midnight petroleum."
*** In the episode "Data's Day" he mentions that he "may be pursuing an untamed ornithoid without cause." It takes Dr. Crusher a few seconds to realize he's talking about a wild goose chase.
*** In the ''Star Fleet Academy'' younger-readers books, Data caused much confusion during his early time at the Academy, not least by being told to "pull up a chair" and doing just that: lifting it up off the floor. [[SuperStrength Despite the chair in question being bolted]] ''[[SuperStrength to]]'' [[SuperStrength the floor at the time.]]
*** In one of the later EU novels, Data admits to Wesley that he'd been doing this on purpose from the very beginning, in an effort to understand human psychology better.
* Became a RunningGag in ''Series/KyleXY'', to the extent that people would use metaphors in front of Kyle, immediately catch themselves and then explain what they meant.
* ''Series/PerfectStrangers'''s Balki, due to being a LiteralMinded FunnyForeigner. It's even in one of his {{Catch Phrase}}s, "Get out of the city!" (as opposed to "Get out of town!")
* Sheldon of ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' tends to zigzag between this and LiteralMinded due to being such a [[MeasuringTheMarigolds analytically]] InsufferableGenius. Most of the time Leonard and the others had to translate for Penny and other people in the beginning.
** Also Raj, who's native to India, sometimes gets the phrase wrong:
-->''[after Leonard strikes out with Penny]''\\
'''Raj:''' You need to get back on the whores.\\
'''Howard:''' "Horse". the phrase is "get back on the horse"\\
'''Raj:''' Dude, that's disgusting!
* ''Series/StargateSG1'':
** Teal'c is the most prone to this:
--> '''Hammond:''' "We've all been holding our breath down here."\\
'''Teal'c:''' "That is not wise."\\
--> '''O'Neill:''' "[[BeamMeUpScotty Lucy, I'm home!]]"\\
'''Teal'c:''' "I am not Lucy."\\
'''O'Neill:''' "I know that. It's a reference to an old TV—never mind, open the door."\\
'''Teal'c:''' "I will summon the doctor."\\
'''O'Neill:''' "No, come on. I'm fine. I'm back to being myself. Just open up."\\
'''Teal'c:''' "I cannot be certain that you are back to being yourself. You referred to me as 'Lucy.'"\\
'''Teal'c''': Things will not calm down, Daniel Jackson. They will, in fact, calm up.
** O'Neill {{lampshade|Hanging}}s this during an argument about whether or not to help an alien race in the middle of a war by trading heavy water for alien technology.
--->'''Daniel:''' Their whole world is in flames, and we're offering gasoline. How is that "help"?\\
'''Teal'c:''' We are in fact offering water.\\
'''O'Neill:''' Thank you!\\
'''Daniel:''' I was speaking metaphorically.\\
'''O'Neill:''' Well, stop it. It's not fair to Teal'c.
** Teal'c eventually starts making jokes about this himself:
--->'''O'Neill''': Teal'c, you really don't have to stay here.\\
'''Teal'c''': Undomesticated equines could not remove me.\\
'''O'Neill''': Wild horses, Teal'c, the saying is... was that a joke?\\
'''Teal'c''': ''[self-satisfied smirk]''
** The Asgard fit, too.
--->'''O'Neill:''' "I full well expected the other shoe to drop eventually."\\
'''Thor:''' "We can only hope that this will be the last footwear to fall. "
** Vala too.
--->'''Lt. Colonel Mitchell:''' Well, you've got to open big, catch people's attention, make them think the whole thing is going to be jam-packed.\\
'''Vala:''' Ooh, I love jam.\\
''[Mitchell, Jackson and Carter look at her]''\\
'''Vala:''' Oh, I get it. It's yet another playful twist on words in your "earth" language.\\
''[A little later, when she is asked what she thinks of the script.]''\\
'''Vala:''' Well, it certainly seems to be packed full of jam!
*** Specifically lampshaded and avoided by Vala in the episode "The Pegasus Project"
--->'''Lt. Colonel Mitchell:''' Like a kid up all night on Christmas Eve.\\
'''Vala:''' I thought we imposed a moratorium on cultural references I wouldn't understand.
*** And later in the same episode.
--->'''Rodney Mckay:''' The size of a gate isn't arbitrary. It'd be like putting together a Saint Bernard and a chihuahua.\\
'''Vala:''' And the problem with that would be?\\
'''Rodney Mckay:''' Well it's obviously a question of... oh, I get it, you're mocking me\\
'''Vala:''' No, I'm not from Earth. I honestly didn't get the reference.
** And Bra'tac
--->'''O'Neill''': We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.\\
'''Bra'tac''': No, the bridge is too well-guarded.
** DoubleSubversion later when Bra'tac uses the same metaphor . . . in the wrong context.
* Fun example from ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', which ventures into leader drama territory (though this is technically Blunt Simile Trauma.)
-->'''Sheppard''': Well, that's why we're a team, like the Fantastic Four.\\
'''[Ronon and Teyla stare at him]'''\\
'''Sheppard''': It's a comic book where superheroes fight crime and stuff. See, I'd be Mr Fantastic, Ronon would be The Thing, [=McKay=] would be the Human Torch...\\
'''Sheppard''' [to Teyla]: You'd be the Invisible Woman.\\
'''Teyla''': I am not invisible.\\
'''Sheppard''': No. No, and [=McKay=]'s not a human torch.\\
'''Teyla''': Well, how come ''you'' get to be Mr. Fantastic?\\
'''Sheppard''': Because he was the leader and I'm the...
* Ziva in ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjdDIhG5WvU very, very frequently.]]
-->'''Ziva''': "It's like shooting fish in a pond."\\
'''Tony''': "Barrel, Ziva."\\
'''Ziva''': "...Why would fish be in a barrel?"
** This conversation from "Hiatus (Part II)":
-->'''Ziva''': Ducky, drip it!\\
'''Ducky''': Do you mean "drop it" or "zip it"?\\
'''Ziva''': Ah, American idioms drive me up the hall!\\
'''Ducky''': Well, actually... never mind.
** Later subverted:
-->'''Ziva''': "I ran into a stone wall"\\
'''Tony''': "You mean a brick wall."\\
'''Ziva''': "No, I mean I [[DrivesLikeCrazy backed into one]]."
** Ziva's actress Creator/CoteDePablo, a native Spanish speaker, falls prey to this on occasion as well, notably during an interview with co-star Michael Weatherly.
-->'''Cote''': ...but then you took me home and we totally clicked...\\
'''Michael''': That sounded bad.\\
'''Cote''': You totally...\\
'''Michael''': I ''drove'' you home.\\
'''Cote''': Okay, you drove me home and...\\
'''Michael''': Your dad's gonna see this...
%%* Mork in ''Series/MorkAndMindy''.
* ''Series/{{Taxi}}''. Elaine tries to tutor Latka in small talk for a dinner party.
-->'''Latka''': I could eat a dog.\\
'''Elaine''': It's "horse". I could eat a horse.\\
'''Latka''': Yecch.
* Temperance "Series/{{Bones}}" Brennan, when she gets over her "I don't know what that means" phase and starts guessing at what's right:
-->'''Local cop''': Is she serious?\\
'''Brennan''': Serious as a gas attack.\\
'''Booth''': Heart attack, Bones.
** Gas attacks are very serious though, just as long as it's a terrorist poison gas attack, and not a {{Gasshole}}.
* The aliens of ''Series/ThirdRockFromTheSun'' (at least, [[PingPongNaivete sometimes]]).
* Baldrick (from season 2 onward) and George (from seasons 3 & 4) of ''Series/{{Blackadder}}''. Particularly notable since they ''are'' native English speakers, albeit stupid ones.
* Connor from ''Series/{{Angel}}'', on occasion.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', particularly Aeryn saying "She gives me a woody" when she meant willies. This is also an instance of the series overall playing with the trope; the characters carry TranslatorMicrobes and so most of the time the alien characters use perfect idioms, as they're really just speaking in their own language and the microbes cause the hearer (and audience) to hear an expression with the intended meaning. [[HumanAliens Aeryn]] doesn't start mangling metaphors until she begins to fall in love with John Crichton, [[FishOutOfWater a lost human astronaut]]--causing John (and the audience) to realize that she's actually trying to learn English (and to fervently wish she'd stop.)
-->'''Aeryn''': Jirl power.\\
'''John''': Girl! It's "girl power." Would you quit speakin' English?!
* Trance in ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'':
-->'''Trance''': [...] patching him up is easy as cake.\\
'''Dylan''': Easy as pie.\\
'''Trance''': Are you sure about that? I think that making pie is a lot harder than cake.
* This becomes a plot point in an episode of ''Series/TheWestWing''. In preparation for a meeting between Bartlet and President Chigorin of Russia, Sam has a meeting with two aides of Chigorin's who are reasonably fluent in English, but keep needing idioms and other curveballs explained to them. At the end of the meeting, one of them produces a statement for a joint press conference between the presidents, saying that both nations want to "stem the tide" of nuclear proliferation and should start with themselves. The aide claims that the statement was his idea and that he wrote it himself. Sam realizes that he wouldn't know the expression "stem the tide," and correctly concludes that Chigorin wrote it and sent it along to the meeting as a message to Bartlet.
* Happened to the Creator/MontyPython crew in real life, when they did an episode in German for Germans, learning it by rote. The phrase "we are sitting you down and scaring the shit out of you in Bavaria" caused disgusted reactions from the German crew. They have no such idiom, so the translation was literally "we are causing you to involuntarily excrete on your chairs in Bavaria".
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** Londo Mollari, in the episode "Chrysalis", gets a common human metaphor mangled for him by Vir, who mixed up ducks for cats:
--->'''Londo:''' "What are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet...go 'quack'?"\\
'''Vir:''' "Cats."\\
'''Londo:''' "I'm being nibbled to death by cats!"
** Delenn also had this trouble early on, although she got better once she fell in love with John Sheridan.
* Anya from ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' often has problems understanding our human jokes and references, and takes great pleasure in pointing out that fact. In flashback we find out she was like that before she became a demon too.
* The Newcomers did this on ''Series/AlienNation''. For example:
--> '''George Francisco:''' Wild whores couldn't drag me away.
** Mathew Sykes's last name translated in the Newcomer language to a contraction of 'excrement' and 'cranium', so every time he introduced himself to a Newcomer they laughed when he gave his name as 'Detective Sykes'.
* Castiel from ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. But then again, Angels of the Lord can probably get a pass for being a bit too literal minded. (He learns to do a great deadpan eventually.)
** Oddly enough, Castiel seems to be the only angel to suffer from this problem. The other angels - especially Zachariah - seem to enjoy using metaphors and pop culture references. Even Lucifer, who has been trapped in the pits of Hell for thousands of years, uses references he probably shouldn't be familiar with.
--> '''Lucifer:''' "Chock full of Ovaltine, are we?"
---> '''Lucifer:''' "Sam Winchester, ThisIsYourLife!"
** It may have to do with how much mining of the vessel's mind they do. Zachariah and Lucifer are both completely willing to rip through whoever-that-is and Nick, while Cas appears to have put Jimmy to sleep for pretty much the whole time he was wearing him. Although he does have a lot of his mannerisms, we could put that down to muscle memory...or, you know, Misha Collins not being a ''godlike'' actor.
*** Demons just out of Hell appear to rely on this regularly--for example, the seven deadly sins in the start of season three pull things like "'''Here's Johnny!'''" while smashing down a door, when they haven't been out since the sixteenth century. And there isn't much to choose between, say, Zachariah and Crowley, so we can infer similar technique.
*** That Uriel is the 'funniest angel in the garrison' when there was Balthazar, and above them the kind of mind that makes of fake identities for two guys named Winchester and surnames them Smith & Wesson, really does say something weird about angel mentality. I'm not even sure what.
* In an episode of ''Series/FoylesWar'', TheMole, an Englishman posing as a French refugee with a thick accent, seems not to know the expression "throw your cap into the ring"; Foyle has already seen him finish an English cryptic crossword puzzle, so what he's giving away is that he wants people to think he's less fluent than he is.
* Sister Sisto in ''Series/TheFlyingNun'' did this a lot.
* Ricky Ricardo in ''Series/ILoveLucy'' frequently bungles English idioms, resulting in memorable lines like "Don't cross their chickens before their bridges are hatched."
* Baber in ''Series/LittleMosqueOnThePrairie'' is prone to these, although not oblivious:
-->"You are either with us, or the highway! Yes, yes, even I know that was wrong, but I was on a roll."
* ''Series/HorribleHistories'': "Easy peasy, squeeze the lemon."
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': Happens frequently with Sontarans, who being a {{Proud Warrior Race|Guy}} don't really get most metaphors. Case in point, in one episode a human working with some Sontarans enthuses that what they're doing is cool. Cue blank looks from the Sontarans ("Is the temperature significant?").
* In ''Series/{{Sliders}}'', after Quinn finds his brother Colin, who's been living in a technologically-backward world, Colin starts learning about modern culture and slang words. So, when he first learns the slang meaning of "cool", he immediately starts extrapolating and assumes that "hot" means "bad". Rembrandt then further confuses him by explaining that both "hot" and "bad" also mean "good".
* In the first season of ''Series/Violetta'', Francesca, who is Italian, replaces words in figurative expressions with similarly sounding ones as a {{OnceAnEpisode}} {{RunningGag}}. When her friends correct her, she doesn't understand it.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* This is one of the main gags in ''The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques''. In one strip he interprets "butt in" as meaning to hit people with his head rather than simply interrupting them, despite the situation calling for the latter usage of "butt".

* Mister Kitzel on ''Radio/TheJackBennyProgram'' did this along with being a {{Malaproper}}.
* Karl Pilkington on ''Radio/TheRickyGervaisShow'' is often quizzed on metaphors, which he either doesn't understand or misinterprets completely. For instance, he believes "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" means "Don't chuck stuff about."

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Sky-Scraper has this problem in ''TabletopGame/SentinelsOfTheMultiverse'' due to having only reached Earth fairly recently.
-->''"All in the work of a lunar cycle! Wait. That is not quite right."''

[[folder:Video Games]]
* A Turian in ''Franchise/MassEffect'' makes this mistake with human language.
--> "What is that charming human expression? A fly in the... lotion?"
** Turians in general have a difficult time with human slang; their own language and culture is centered around clear and precise communication, so metaphors and slang tend to trip them up.
--->'''James:''' Yeah! Like shooting fish in a barrel!\\
'''Garrus:''' What?!\\
'''James:''' Old human saying! Like fish! In a! Barrel!\\
'''James:''' What's the matter, Scars? Chicken?\\
'''Garrus:''' I don't even know what that ''is'', though I have heard that [[TastesLikeChicken everything in the galaxy tastes like it]].
** It's not just Turians who have a problem. It's actually a major problem with humans in the galactic society: because they talk in a lot of slang, shorthand, and metaphors, other species are utterly perplexed by this manner of speech. For example, an asari socialite in the ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' Citadel DLC:
--->'''Selyana''': The humans are so resilient. Like that phrase of theirs: "[[AccidentalInnuendo Stiff one in the lips.]]"\\
'''Shepard''': StiffUpperLip.\\
'''Selyana''': Right, of course. What did I say?
** ''VideoGame/MassEffectAndromeda'': Angaran teammate Jaal often finds himself frustrated by idiomatic speech, as the auto-translators between Milky Way languages and the angaran language Selesh are not as up-to-date just yet.
--->'''Ryder''': Don't push your luck.\\
'''Jaal''': ''[chuckles]'' But luck isn't something that can be "pushed". It comes to us like-- ah. Idiom.\\
'''Ryder''': Yep.\\
'''Jaal''': Shit.\\
'''Jaal''': I'd rather have sand or ice through my crack than deal with politicians.\\
'''Liam''': Your "crack"? Is that some sort of euphemism, or an attempt at human slang?\\
'''Jaal''': Fuck over.
* Nick Nack in ''VideoGame/FossilFighters'' has a tendency to mutilate not only English idioms ("I can have my socks and feet them too!"), but sayings from other languages. How does he thank you from the bottom of his heart? "[[GratuitousJapanese Airy cat oh!]] [[GratuitousSpanish Grassy us!]] [[GratuitousGerman Donkey shines!]]"
* [[VerbalTic *Hoorb!*]] A flesh person? The one whose air-sound is Dillo's inner core flies at the opportunity to put air-sounds into head-holes! Then you will make air-sounds back! Would you like to hear how Dillo's home [[MoodDissonance planetary groupings]] were soiled into dusts before he came to the ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes''? We will be making tiny-words! How wonderful!
* The Heavy in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' does this a bit. [[http://wiki.teamfortress.com/w/images/8/8a/Heavy_laughlong02.wav "Oh, that slaps me on the knee!"]]
** Also, he once covered for the Soldier's job of posting on the official blog. [[http://www.teamfortress.com/post.php?id=5244 He mentions something he calls a "button board"]]... Heavy, do you mean "keyboard"?
** It runs in the family, it seems: In the ''Blood in the Water'' comic, his sister Zhanna thinks assaulting a base "with extreme prejudice" means "be racist at them". Then again, Soldier seemingly made that mistake before.
* General Sargas Ruk from ''VideoGame/{{Warframe}}'' is so focused on making his threats [[CutHisHeartOutWithASpoon gory]] that he can't seem to decide if he's talking metaphorically or not.
-->"Now we crush the greedy milk from their skulls!"
* Almost everything L'cirufe (or just [[OneLetterName L]] if it please you) says in ''VideoGame/XenobladeChroniclesX''.
-->"It's a horse-eat-horse world!"\\
"Truly, we are on the ninth cloud of seventh heaven!"
** He even has a tendency to "correct" other people's metaphors:
--->'''Phog:''' Well, that one gave me pins and needles.\\
'''L:''' No, no, no. It ''had'' you on the pins and the needles.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Zinc Lablanc in ''VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigations'', a native Borginian who can speak English, just not perfectly.

* The depiction of The Sorrow in ''Webcomic/TheCobraDays'' is a good example of this trope before he sits down with a dictionary. "How are you?" "I'm a peach." " 'I'm peachy.' "
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', Grace frequently has these problems, although she's progressing.
--> "I see. It's corn that isn't corn."
* Zoë in ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' does not usually use certain kind of language, and she's not very good at it when she does. An obvious example is when she was annoyed at always being the one who was cautious and reluctant to go into danger and was so determined to be otherwise that she agreed to go on a [[ItMakesSenseInContext beer rescue through time]]: "[[http://www.sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/19990508 Let's bus heads! Let's pinch ass!]]"
* ''Webcomic/{{XKCD}}'''s jive is summarily [[http://xkcd.com/771/ grokked.]]
* [[MindScrew May or may not]] be happening in [[http://wondermark.com/748/ this]] ''Webcomic/{{Wondermark}}'' strip.
* [[http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/4p16/ This exchange]] between [[WebComic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja Dr. McNinja]] and his dad.
-->'''Dan McNinja''': What? Are you too cool to bust ass with your old man?\\
'''Dr. [=McNinja=]''': Dad, that means farting.\\
'''Dan [=McNinja=]''': Are you too cool to blast ass with your old man?\\
'''Dr. [=McNinja=]''': Diarrhea.\\
'''Dan [=McNinja=]''': Dammit, I want us to go injure people!\\
'''Dr. [=McNinja=]''': That would be ''"kick"'' ass.\\
'''Dan [=McNinja=]''': [[ComicallyMissingThePoint But there aren't any vital organs there. I want to kick faces or something]]. You know, [[{{Squick}} really get number two on them]].
* ''Webcomic/UhOhItsADinosaur'': Kyra has a bad case of this. Understandable, as she's a two-year-old lizard who was raised in a lab.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* ''WebVideo/SailorMoonAbridged'', the Episode 46/47 double-whammy:
-->'''Ann:''' "Hopefully with ''two'' [[MonsterOfTheWeek Cardians]] on our side this episode we'll succeed some way."\\
'''Alan:''' "I'm not so sure. Like the humans say, I would not hold my dick about it."\\
'''Ann:''' "...No. You... you mean 'breath.' Hold your breath."\\
'''Alan:''' "...Why would I hold my breath [[DumbassHasAPoint if I could hold my dick]]?"

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Starfire in ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''. Poor girl doesn't know when "People are ''NOT'' talking about shovels".
* Omi in ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'' (and carried into ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinChronicles''), so much it became a RunningGag.
-->'''Omi:''' Let us remove the lead!\\
'''Kimiko:''' [It's] "Get the lead out".\\
'''Omi:''' That too.
** Everyone, friends and enemies alike, have moments of confusion from the little monk.
--->'''Omi:''' What goes in circles, goes the other way in circles.\\
'''Wuya:''' Somebody translate!? I'll be up all night!\\
'''Clay:''' I think he means "What goes around comes around."\\
'''Wuya:''' Oh please...that wasn't even close.
** In one episode ''the villain Jack Spicer'' had to translate one of Omi's double-jointed sentences for everyone else.
--->'''Omi:''' ''[to Wuya]'' The jig is down, you are at the top of your rope, spoon over that Wu!\\
''[very, very, VERY long pause and everyone is looking around at each other waiting for someone to say something then cuts to Jack with his finger on his chin thinking]''\\
'''Jack:''' Oh, oh I got it! The jig is up, you are at the end of your rope, fork over the Wu! ''[does a little victory dance and opens his jacket which has a ribbon that says "Evil Genius"]''
*** It should be worth noting that Raimundo is seen fainting in the background with clearly a headache ([[RunningGag normally it's Raimundo who corrects Omi]]).
** Also from ''Xiaolin Showdown''.
--->'''Omi:''' (To Jack) I demand that you spill your internal organs now!!\\
'''Jack:''' (screams) [[EvenEvilHasStandards What kind of sick people are you!?]]\\
'''Raimundo:''' I think he means spill your guts.
** And this gem:
--->'''Omi:''' Looks like we can kiss our backsides goodbye!\\
'''Raimundo:''' You mean kiss our butts.\\
'''Omi:''' That is ''most'' disgusting!
** GettingCrapPastTheRadar in this one:
--->'''Omi''': Yes! I am in heat!\\
'''Raimundo:''' ''No!'' Omi it's on fire, ''on fire!!''
** This gem too:
--->'''Omi:''' It would seem that Lady Luck is spitting on us!\\
'''Raimundo:''' You mean Lady Luck is ''shining'' on us.\\
''[explosion happens under their feet and sends all four monks flying]''\\
'''Clay:''' [[SarcasmMode I think the little guy might've had it right the first time.]]
** And after enough times:
--->'''Omi:''' Dojo, keep your nose in the game!\\
'''Raimundo:''' Omi, you gotta be doing that on purpose.
* ''WesternAnimation/CaptainPlanetAndThePlaneteers''
** Despite all of the main cast inexplicably speaking English, Wheeler frequently had to correct Linka for this type of mistake in the earlier episodes, while the other characters seem to get them fine, despite not growing up in the US either.
** There was one episode where Ma-Ti got into Sam Spade type detective novels and tried to use 1940's slang, only to get it all mixed up.
* Antoine from ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' is pretty good at this.
-->'''Antoine''': She was making me a bookcase!\\
'''Rotor''': You mean basket case.
** He even messes up ones from his own language.
-->'''Antoine''': Sacre bleu cheese!
* The toddlers in ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' do this a lot. For instance, Tommy says "back to Norman" instead of "back to normal", and Angelica interprets "break a leg" as "break some eggs."
* Exile from ''WesternAnimation/RoadRovers'' is constantly defined by his mangling of the English language.
-->'''Exile''': Easy as cake. Like taking pie from a baby!
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'' does this often. The translator in "Heart of Archness" in particular cites the problem with translating idioms. Also: "[[AccidentalInnuendo Phrasing]]!"
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': In "Lemon of Troy", Bart, before leaving to take revenge on Shelbyville kids who stole Springfield's lemon tree, tells Marge he's going to "teach some kids a lesson". She thinks he's going to become a tutor.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'': In "School Spirit", Marco tells Star that the Silver Hill Warriors "slaughters" the Echo Creek Possums every year, but she ends up believing their football game is to be a bloody battle. It is only ''after'' she booby traps the football field to strike the Warriors that Star discovers it's the name of a team and that "slaughter" meant "badly defeat".