A Spoonerful of Punny

September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of the great paradoxes of humor is the pun. So clever, yet so base. To wit (or witless):

A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself.  ~Doug Larson

Punning and groaning are brothers.  ~B.F. Tucson

Despite the fact that O. Henry is one of my favorite writers and the acknowledged master of the pun, I for one, care less for them. Get thee to a punnery! I am spooney for spoonerisms.

“A spoonerism,” to quote Wikipedia, “is an error in speech or deliberate play on words in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched. It is named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Warden of New College, Oxford, who was notoriously prone to this tendency. While spoonerisms are commonly heard as slips of the tongue resulting from unintentionally getting one’s words in a tangle, they can also be used intentionally as a play on words. Spoonerisms are commonly used intentionally in humour.”

These are some of the hoariest (or whoriest, if you prefer – excuse the pun) spoonerisms.

“Three cheers for our queer old dean!” (dear old queen, referring to Queen Victoria)

“Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?” (customary to kiss)

“The Lord is a shoving leopard.” (a loving shepherd)

“A blushing crow.” (crushing blow)

“A well-boiled icicle” (well-oiled bicycle)

I relish these time-honored tongue slippers as much as anyone, but I am not one to stand on tradition when there is so much new ground on which to tread.

Spoonerisms can turn up anywhere in daily life; to find them, you must always be on the lookout for them, like four-leaf clovers or dollar bills in the gutter. Whenever two or three words come together, you may very well find word-play playmates.

Here are some of my favorite spoonerizable phrases picked out from the gutter of daily life. Now that you know how to play the game, try them on for size. Remember, it’s the sound, not the spelling, that counts. Warning: some of them involve explicitly base and/or crude slang language, so Spooner beware!

Dinah Shore

Food Mart

Doodle Town Pipers

Man versus Food

Scottie Pippin

Ella Fitzgerald

Rick Santorum

Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Turkey Jerky

Bea Flagg

Bell and Howell

Bud Powell

Hang Dog

Ace of Cakes

Wu Tang Clan

Crips and Bloods

Suze Orman

Slap Chop

Pussy Willow

Dog and Suds

Red Hots

Rob Nash

Honey Bears

Snack Crackers

Gunther Packs a Stiffy (You will have to think outside the pants to solve this one.)

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