My Favorite Tom Swifties

This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.
This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed. | Source

What are Tom Swifties?

Tom Swifties are a type of pun in which an adverb or adverbial phrase refers to how someone said something. They originated in the series of books first published in 1910 featuring the fictional character Tom Swift.

In the more than 100 Tom Swift books published, author Victor Appleton II took pains not to repeat such adverbs, or the word "said." I hope you enjoy reading this list of some of my favorite Tom Swifties.

Tom Swift Books in the Public Domain

Twenty-five of Victor Appleton's Tom Swift books are in the public domain. They can be downloaded in e-book format from various sources.

YEAR PUBLISHED
BOOK TITLE
1910
Tom Swift and His Motor Cycle; or, Fun and Adventure on the Road
1910
Tom Swift and His Motor Boat; or, The Rivals of Lake Carlopa
1910
Tom Swift and His Airship; or, The Stirring Cruise of the Red Cloud
1910
Tom Swift and His Submarine Boat; or, Under the Ocean for Sunken Treasure
1910
Tom Swift and His Electric Runabout; or, The Speediest Car on the Road
1911
Tom Swift and His Wireless Message; or, The Castaways of Earthquake Island
1911
Tom Swift Among the Diamond Makers; or, The Secret of Phantom Mountain
1911
Tom Swift in the Caves of Ice; or, The Wreck of the Airship
1911
Tom Swift and His Sky Racer; or, The Quickest Flight on Record
1911
Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle; or, Daring Adventures on Elephant Island
1912
Tom Swift in the City of Gold; or, Marvelous Adventures Underground
1912
Tom Swift and His Air Glider; or, Seeking the Platinum Treasure
1912
Tom Swift in Captivity; or, A Daring Escape by Airship
1912
Tom Swift and His Wizard Camera; or, Thrilling Adventures While Taking Moving Pictures
1912
Tom Swift and His Great Searchlight; or, On the Border for Uncle Sam
1913
Tom Swift and His Giant Cannon; or, The Longest Shots on Record
1914
Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone; or, The Picture That Saved a Fortune
1915
Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship; or, The Naval Terror of the Seas
1916
Tom Swift and His Big Tunnel; or, The Hidden City of the Andes
1917
Tom Swift In the Land of Wonders; or, The Underground Search for the Idol of Gold
1918
Tom Swift and His War Tank; or, Doing His Bit for Uncle Sam
1919
Tom Swift and His Air Scout; or, Uncle Sam's Mastery of the Sky
1920
Tom Swift and His Undersea Search; or, The Treasure on the Floor of the Atlantic
1921
Tom Swift Among the Fire Fighters; or, Battling with Flames in the Air
1922
Tom Swift and His Electric Locomotive; or, Two Miles a Minute on the Rails

Examples of Tom Swifties

  • "I've got a knife," he said sharply.
  • "I need a pencil sharpener," he said bluntly.
  • "I've been to a film festival in Southern France," he said cannily.
  • "Its twelve noon," he chimed in.
  • "I dropped the toothpaste," he said, crestfallen.

  • "I'm the butcher's assistant," he said cuttingly.
  • "I just came in through the door," he said, entranced.
  • "I have a split personality," Tom said, being frank.
  • "Would anyone like some Parmesan?" he asked gratingly.
  • "I forgot my birth control pill,” she said. There was a pregnant pause.

"Come here, dog" he muttered.
"Come here, dog" he muttered.
  • "Come here, dog" he muttered.
  • "There's a blood sucking insect in every outhouse,” he said aloofly.
  • "Where's my billiards equipment?" he said accusingly.
  • "There's a stop sign," he said haltingly.
  • "We need to call a landscaper," he hedged.

"We can't have this and eat it too," said Tom archaically.
"We can't have this and eat it too," said Tom archaically.
  • "We can't have this and eat it too," said Tom archaically.
  • "Cobblers!" said Tom at last.
  • "This boat is leaking," said Tom balefully.
  • "Give me a haircut," Tom said barbarously
  • "I'm losing my hair," Tom bawled.

  • "He's dead, Jim" said Bones gravely.
  • "I'm hungry," he said bitingly.
  • "The down elevator is over there," he said condescendingly.
  • "I really like Picasso," said Tom abstractly.
  • "A lot of people didn't show up," said Tom absent-mindedly.

  • "You have to fill in this form,” Tom said blankly.
  • "Yes, I have been reading Voltaire," Tom admitted candidly.
  • "Use your own toothbrush!" Tom bristled.
  • "I'm a great opera singer," said Tom, being callous.
  • "I've only enough carpet for the hall and landing," said Tom with a blank stare.

"Give me some pre-packed cheese slices," said Tom craftily.
"Give me some pre-packed cheese slices," said Tom craftily.
  • "We're off to Scotland," said Tom clandestinely
  • "Don't add too much water," said Tom with great concentration.
  • "I'd like to be a Chinese laborer," said Tom coolly.
  • "Give me some pre-packed cheese slices," said Tom craftily.
  • "We've brought only gold and frankincense," the Magi demurred.

"I want this statue to look like the Venus de Milo," said Tom disarmingly.
"I want this statue to look like the Venus de Milo," said Tom disarmingly.
  • "I want this statue to look like the Venus de Milo," said Tom disarmingly.
  • "Don't let me drown in Egypt!" pleaded Tom, deep in denial.
  • "Who turned out the lights?" asked Tom darkly.
  • "Let's go to McDonald's" said Tom archly.
  • "That's too much pineapple," said Tom dolefully.

  • "Pass me the shellfish," said Tom crabbily.
  • "You're the son of a female dog!" he sobbed.
  • "Here's a person with an IQ of 80!" exclaimed Tom dumbfoundedly.
  • "Emily has put on weight," said Tom emphatically.
  • "I used to be a paratrooper," Tom explained.

  • "Elvis is dead," said Tom expressly.
  • "I used to command a battalion of German ants," said Tom exuberantly.
  • "Watch this insect sail through the air," said Tom flippantly.
  • "I won't finish in fifth place," Tom held forth.
  • "The store has no more bananas," Tom said fruitlessly.

  • "This food tastes of plutonium," said Tom glowingly.
  • "Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess," Tom began grimly.
  • "I'll beat you with diamonds, clubs, and spades," said Tom heartlessly.
  • "There's a snake in the yard," hissed Tom.
  • "The doctors had to remove a bone from my arm," said Tom humorlessly.
  • "That's an ugly hippopotamus!" said Tom hypocritically.

Do you have a favorite Tom Swifty? Please post it in the Comments section.

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Comments 61 comments

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

"I hope you enjoy reading this list of some of my favorite Tom Swifties." She said readily. I did!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Thanks Peg! "I almost didn't post it", she said listlessly.


thejeffriestube profile image

thejeffriestube 4 years ago from United States

This is very cool, I like me some early 20th century reading, thank you for turning me on to Victor Appleton!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

I'm glad you enjoyed this article, Dave.

I'm sorry I couldn't reply with a Tom Swiftie. I like the cleverness of the pun, but it takes me too long to write them.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

I enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks for lightening my day.

Cheers


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Thanks, Vinaya. I'm glad you enjoyed my article. Did you know about this type of pun before you read my Hub?


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

These were so much fun to read!

"Thanks for brightening my day," she said lightly.

Definitely voted up across the board and shared!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Stephanie,

I'm glad you enjoyed reading my Hub. Tom Swifties are fun. I wish I could write them.


SantaCruz profile image

SantaCruz 4 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

Thanks for a bunch of pun posts for Facebook :).


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

SantaCruz,

It's nice to meet you. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my article. Are you going to post some of the Tom Swifties on Facebook?


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

"You buttoned this up well," he commented closely.

;-) These are fun. Good job. Voted up & shared.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Ms. Lizzy,

It's good to "see" you again. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my Hub.

That's a great Tom Swiftie! I wish I could think of some.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

"OH! I sat on a tack!" she exclaimed pointedly! :-D They are fun to play with. I'm sure you can think of some yourself. "You just need some time to sit and think a spell." she said bewitchingly. ;-)


SantaCruz profile image

SantaCruz 4 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

Yes, I very much like the crestfallen man who dropped his toothpaste. I will post it on my dentist's page :).


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Ms. Lizzy,

Your Tom Swifties are great! I'll probably think of some in the middle of the night.

I had better put a pad of paper and a pen near my bed so I can write down my puns if I think of any.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

SantaCruz,

Please post another message if your dentist comments on the Tom Swiftie.


SantaCruz profile image

SantaCruz 4 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

Hi Daisy! The dentist now has:

"You missed a spot on our intake form," Barb said blankly.

"And I dropped the toothpaste," she said, crestfallen.

"Tell her to relax and brush it off."?

Wow, these are really bad and yet so good :).


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

SantaCruz,

Thanks for the update! I appreciate your coming back and letting us know.


SanneL profile image

SanneL 4 years ago from Sweden

What a wonderful hub! reading all these puns gave me a great chuckle. However, not allowed to be used in writing. Hehe! Voted up, pushed a lot of buttons and shared.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Sannel,

Thanks so much for reading and sharing my article. I'm glad that you enjoyed the Tom Swifties. Have you tried writing any? I keep trying, without much success.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

"This was a fun list of puns!" said Sunshine with a smile.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Thanks, Sunshine!

I'm glad you enjoyed reading the puns. Even after drinking my morning coffee, I still can't think of any puns.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Cute hub idea that's generating fun comments. It's not as easy as one might first think! "A Tom Swifty requires an unusual tack," strategized rtalloni.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

RTalloni,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs. Thanks, too, for being so *punny*.


Bobette Bryan 4 years ago

From F. Scott Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby: “Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently.

He's the adverbial tag king. Check out his work. Just about every line of his dialogue has a nauseating adverb attached. It seems parasitic.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Bobette,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.


Heather Says profile image

Heather Says 4 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

I enjoyed, "I have a split personality," Tom said, being frank.

Very clever. Interesting hub. I certainly chuckled. :)


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Oh I really love this Daisy- you know how much I like words and wordplay. These Tom Swifties belong to the 'groan but its funny' category. I feel like making up some of my own - that's the sign of an inspirational hub. and you taught me something new. I didn't know they were called Tom Swifties! Here goes:

" Do you like my new hat?" He said, brimming with pride.

"Did you see Jupiter through the telescope" he said Jovially ( that's

"Have you not milked the cow yet?" The farmer was udderly mad.

Great hub Daisy! voted up! (He said loftily)


Robin Oatley profile image

Robin Oatley 4 years ago

Great hub! I loved some of them. Especially "I have a split personality," Tom said, being frank.

This one is also very clever: "I want this statue to look like the Venus de Milo," said Tom disarmingly.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Heather,

It's nice to "see" you again. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the Tom Swifties. I haven't been able to decide which of them is my favorite.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mohan (Docmo),

Thanks for reading and commenting in my Hub. I appreciate your continued support.

I do know how much you love words and wordplay. I thought that if you discovered this article, you would come up with some clever Tom Swifties of your own. I've tried a number of times to write them, but I'm never able to do so.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Robin,

It's nice to hear from you again. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my article. The Tom Swifties were fun to compile.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Daisy these are so funny--my husband is a punner as well--so I groan a lot! Loved this!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audrey,

Thanks for reading and commenting in my Hub. Since your husband is a punner, did you suggest that he read my article?


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Daisy, I had never heard of Tom Swifties but I love these!

I love anything to do with language and you could certainly have some fun with these i think.

Voted up, etc.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Julie,

I'm glad you like the Tom Swifties. Please post another comment if you're successful in writing some.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California

What a light and fun read on a few Tom Swifties! I always enjoy your work, Daisy!

HubHugs~


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Thanks for the laughs:)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

India (K9keystrokes),

Thanks for reading the Tom Swifties and adding your comment. I appreciate your continued support of my work.

Tom Swifties are fun to read and for me, difficult to write. I've tried to write them several times, but have never been successful.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Linda (Sunshine625),

I'm glad you enjoyed reading the Tom Swifties. If you're looking for a little bit of silliness, they're perfect.


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

This was so much fun to read. Brilliant use of the English language. I've never read a tom Swift book, but I recall a similar use of punny terms from books I have read from that time period. The author must have been a major influence on other writers.

Voting and more.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Jayme (Sharkye11),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Have you tried to write Tom Swifties? They have fascinated me for what seems like forever, but I'm not able to write them.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

This is the first I have heard of Tom Swifties. I have heard of the Elvis is Dead - very popular. What an interesting hub.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dianna (teaches12345),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. Tom Swifties have survived more than 100 years, but there are probably many people today who haven't heard of them.

I bet you'll be able to write some if you tried. If you do write any Tom Swifties, please post another comment.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I'm sure glad I'm not the only one to have never heard of Tom Swifties! I get the idea, though, I'll work on one.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (mary615)

Thanks for reading and commenting in my article. I appreciate your support.

If you write a Tom Swiftie, please post another comment and let us see what you wrote.


AudraLeigh 4 years ago

I really like the examples you gave us for the T Swifties! My fave. was ""Give me some pre-packed cheese slices," said Tom craftily." very clever!!! This is a fun read this morning...thank you!!!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audra,

I'm glad you enjoyed reading the Tom Swifties. Are you going to try writing some?


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Very interesting, enjoyed reading. Tom Swifties, something new to me. Thanks for sharing.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I appreciate your support of my writing.

Are you going to try writing a Tom Swiftie?


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

"Very interesting, Daisy!" she said interested.

"Though I don't thing this is a true Tom Swifty," she said honestly.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Martie,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting. I'm glad you liked the Tom Swifties.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Will try to write!!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for visiting again. If you write a Tom Swiftie, please post it in a comment here.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Very cool! And so entertaining!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audrey,

Thanks for reading my Hub and posting your comment. Tom Swifties are very clever. I've tried to write them, but have never succeeded.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

These Tom Swifties are great Daisy. I am definitely going to try to incorporate some into a hub. Thanks for sharing, this was a fun read.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

John (Jodah),

Thanks for reading my Hub and posting your comment. I have always been fascinated with Tom Swifties, but I've never been able to write them. After you've incorporated some into a Hub, please let me know. I'll add a link in this Hub to your new Hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Hi again Daisy. I have written the hub, just looking for some suitable images. It is quite a challenge to come up with new Tom Swifties. I have done my best but some are stretching it a bit I think. Anyway, I should have it published by tomorrow.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

My hub is called "Tom Swiftly and the Case of the Million Dollar Collar". I added a link to this hub too.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

John (Jodah),

Thanks! I'll get the link to your Hub and add it to this Hub.

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    Daisy Mariposa has a B.A. from Montclair University in New Jersey and two occupational certificates from California colleges.



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