What are Tom Swifties?

A "Tom Swifty" refers to a pun that involves dialogue accompanied by an adverb that relates to the dialogue in an unexpected or unintentional way. Here is the archetypical example and the one that provides the term for them:

"We must hurry," said Tom Swiftly.

Tom Swift was a young detective fiction series from the early twentieth century and were known for the author's refusal to use the word "said." This led to a quirky writing style that is parodied by Tom Swifties. Although the fictional character is largely forgotten today Tom Swifties are still funny and easy to write. Here are some more examples, with some being a little harder to get than others:

"I'm wearing my wedding ring," said Tom with abandon. (In case you're not quite following - read as "a band on")

"There's no need for silence," Tom allowed.

"Do you play the guitar?," Tom asked callously.

"I still have two fingers left," said Tom handsomely.

"Perhaps I will," said Tom with all his might.

Naughtily, Tom said nothing.

"I know where Tiger Woods is," said Tom profoundly.

"This is where I keep my arrows", said Tom, quivering.

"What are these berries," Tom Rasped.

They don't all have to use the name "Tom", however. Here's one that uses another name as part of the joke:

"Who discovered Radium?," asked Marie curiously.

Tom Swifties are very easy to write. Here's a few I wrote for this article:

"The swamp is very dark today," Tom said murkily.

"I don't think I could stop doing math if I wanted to," said Tom addictively.

Tom Swifties are a fun exercise that get your brain juices flowing. Go ahead and write some if you're up for it!

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John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 4 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

Fascinating reading, AwesomeRob. Voted up, awesome and interesting. I have never heard of Tom Swift or the books, and as for the word Taser being an acronym of Thomas A. Swifts Electric Rifle - that was a revelation. Keep up the good work.


AwesomeRob profile image

AwesomeRob 4 years ago Author

Thanks a lot. I didn't even know that about the word "taser" so I guess we both learned something!

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