Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A transposition of sounds of two or more words, especially a ludicrous one, such as Let me sew you to your sheet for Let me show you to your seat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A play on words on a phrase in which the initial (usually consonantal) sounds of two or more of the main words are transposed.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. transposition of initial consonants in a pair of words

Etymologies

After William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), British cleric and scholar.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Named after the Reverend W. A. Spooner (1844-1930), who is supposed to have habitually made such slip-ups. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • I frequently stumble into spoonerisms when I am tired. It makes me feel better that there are enough folks with this quirk that it actually has a name.

    June 24, 2013

  • Spoonerism.

    May 30, 2010

  • I once received a chain email full of spoonerisms.. my favorite was a waiter trying to say " Let me show you to your seats" that instead said " Let me sew you to your sheets".

    June 25, 2009

  • "Haila Stoddard, playing Pauline on The Secret Storm was supposed to say to her mother, 'I always thought she was a bit of a witch.' Instead, there on live TV, in front of millions, she said, 'whit of a bitch.' Her astounded mom, instead of going on with her regular lines, responded, 'Oh dear, Pauline, you didn't mean to say that!' It took the actors ten minutes to get back to the script."

    -Uncle John's All-Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader

    May 21, 2009


  • Once a big molicepan
    Saw a bittle lum,
    Sitting on the sturbcone
    Chewing gubble bum.

    'Hi!' said the molicpan.
    'Bitter simmie gome.'
    'Tot on your nintype!'
    Said the bittle lum.

    - Edward Lear, 'Once a Big Molicepan'.

    April 12, 2009

  • It's very hard to fight a liar in roaring pain.

    March 25, 2009

  • Q What is the difference between a chorus-girl and a tramp?

    A A chorus-girl has natty knickers.

    (Probably only meaningful to British English speakers).

    August 18, 2008

  • Q What is the difference between a sandpiper and a baby?

    A A sandpiper flits along the shore.

    August 18, 2008

  • someone I worked with once referred to "the whole matching shoot"

    July 24, 2008

  • I understand the good Reverend once complained of addressing beery wenches each Sunday morning.

    June 21, 2008

  • I heard these attributed to the Rev. Spooner himself:

    "The Lord is a shoving leopard to his flock."

    and something about the pleasures of riding a well-boiled icicle.

    June 21, 2008

  • A shining wit.

    June 21, 2008

  • a cunning stunt

    June 21, 2008

  • a googol of geese

    January 30, 2008

  • ...I ever heard, was when a friend was reading a copy of "Mother Earth News" magazine and, turning to relate something interesting, instead called the magazine "Mother Nerth Ewws".

    June 26, 2007