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spoonerism = Schüttelreim, Spoonerismus



“In a 1997 article for The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the group of people he called coolhunters - a SPOONERISM waiting to happen, if ever there was one - who scoured big American cities to find out what the cool kids thought about sneakers.”

BBC News

Did you


- a mistake made when speaking, in which the first sounds of two words are exchanged with each other to produce an unintended and usually funny meaning

- the transposition of initial or other sounds of words, usually by accident

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary / Dictionary dot Com


Spoonerisms are named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Warden of New College, Oxford, who was notoriously prone to this mistake. The term “Spoonerism” was well established in English by 1921.

Many spoonerisms attributed to Reverend Spooner were likely made up by others, such as his students, but we’ll never know for sure.


— “Three cheers for our queer old dean!” (rather than “dear old queen” a reference to Queen Victoria)

— “It is kisstomary to cuss the bride?” (as opposed to “customary to kiss”)

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

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

—  “You were fighting a liar.” (“lighting a fire”)

— “Someone is occupewing my pie.” (“Someone is occupying my pew”)

—  “You have hissed all my mystery lectures.” (“You have missed all my history lectures”)

—  “You have tasted a whole worm.” (“You have wasted a whole term”)

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.

The spoonerism “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy” has been attributed to several people, including American comedian W.C. Fields and American writer Dorothy Parker.


bobble, boo-boo, bozo eruption, clinker, faux pas, Freudian slip, lapsus linguae, malapropism, metathesis, paraphasia, phonetic reversal, pratfall, slip of the tongue, SPOONERISM, thinko, tongue twister

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“Deliberate SPOONERISMS can be a wice nay to have some fun.”

THANKS to Smaul for suggesting today’s OWAD.

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

Paul Smith

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