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Spoonerisms A play On Words Or In My Case Family Bloopers!

Updated on July 21, 2013

Spoonerism

Spoonerism or a play on words, is a classic example of 'How to get your words muddled up'. It is also known as an error of speech.

The word spoonerism, was started by the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) who was a Warden of New College Oxford England. He was well known for getting his words in a complete muddle. For example:

  1. 'a well boiled icicle, in other words, a well oiled bycicle!
  2. Is it kistomary to cuss the bride?! - customary to kiss the bride
  3. The Lord is a shoving leopard - A loving Shepherd!
  4. Is the bean dizzy? - Is the Dean busy?

This in polite terms is said to be called, 'getting one's words in a tangle.

Spooner was also well known for many different sayings that are common today. I am sure we have all heard the phrase, 'I would rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy'! There are various forms of spoonerisms as this shows. Now we know this, I am going to introduce you to my mother!

She was one of the most spooneristic people I know. Every time she opened her mouth, the words would get tangled up. And my dad wasn't much better either. The trouble is it seems to be catching. My friend has started to do the same thing. Only the other day he said, 'I would love to go to Egpyt! He meant Egypt! So is it only an English thing? Or do you know someone who always gets their words, or phrases muddled up? Maybe you suffer with Spoonerism. I know it certainly runs in my family..


The Reverend William Archibald Spooner Public Domain
The Reverend William Archibald Spooner Public Domain
My lovely mum. Copyright Nell Rose Not to be used without permission.
My lovely mum. Copyright Nell Rose Not to be used without permission.

The Wonderful Ronnie Barker Muddling Up His Words!

What The Heck Did She Say?!

My mother was one of those people who couldn't bear to miss out on anything. She either had the radio going full blast most of the time, or she was often found peering out the window at three in the morning. Mind you that was my fault. She always insisted on staying up to make sure I got home safely from the nightclub. I was eighteen at the time, but you know what mums are like. Here are just a few of her sayings, bloopers, tongue ties or spoonerisms.


1. On referring to a friend coming to tea:

I had better go fetch her, she will be tired, she has just come back from the Incontinent!

(Subcontinent!)

2. Entering a shop behind a very haughty posh woman who asked for Jam Donuts:

Excuse me Sir, (posh voice) Please can I have so of those lovely Damn Jonuts!

3. Listening to the radio one day she came running into the front room and said:

The Pope has just ordered 400 new cars! How can he afford that?

What she meant was, The Pope has ordained 400 new Cardinals!

4. On buying a new cat with the name of Joe, she could never remember his name. (nor mine!) So chasing the cat down the garden she yelled:

Jason, Joson, Bason Bison, oh darn it!

5. Following a woman into a shop, she heard (yeah right!) the woman say:

Thank you for your help, I would now like to pay: The man carried on packing her goods.

And my my mum who was hard of hearing, (who woulda thought it?) said at the top of her voice, 'Scuse me, the lady would like to pee, can't you show her the toilets?!

6. My brother asked her to go and fetch a record that was in the charts at the time.

It was called Tiger Feet by the group Mud. On entering the record store, right in the middle of a group of teenagers she said at the top of her voice:

Hey, have you got that new record, Muddy Feet by Tiger? (shame!) my brother never lived that one down!

7. But sadly he fell for it again. A few months later, she said, I am going down town, do you want anything?

So, my brother said, yes can you go to the record store and get me, Elvis Presleys record called, Burning Love!

So, off she went and asked for: Flaming Lust by Elvis Parsley! Nooooo!

My mother was one of the funniest people I have ever known. She used to tell me these bloopers when she came back from the shops. It was the funniest thing to hear, as she always would laugh so loud and keep saying 'Oh dear, Oh dear, I didn't say that did I? Then fall back on the couch holding her head in her hands crying with laughter. I am sure that she did it deliberatly most of the time. Or perhaps not!


So, do you know of anybody that suffers with Spoonerism? Most of my family does that's for sure!

Copyright Nell Rose

All Rights reserved.





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    • profile image

      Hubert Williams 5 years ago

      That was hilarious. Your mom sounds like a hoot. Or was that supposed to be your mom's hound let a poot? I can't say.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Hubert, lol! you got it! yes, she was hilarious, one time she told a workmen to move 'his hole'!! I nearly died of embarassment, it was only then that I realised she literally meant a hole in the ground she was trying to get around! she was being funny! lol!

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Nell your mom sounds like an absolute delight! I just giggled reading this but also got a very clear picture of a lovely, funny lady. Well done Nell Rose!

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 5 years ago from Aurora

      Funny!!

      "The Pope has just ordered 400 new cars! How can he afford that?"

      What she meant was, Jay Leno ordered 400 cars!!!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, duffsmom, sadly my mum isn't around anymore, she passed away ten years ago, but I will never forget her funny sayings, even now I can see her rolling about on the sofa, laughing her head off! thanks so much for reading, cheers nell

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Laura, lol! you're probably right there! thanks for reading, and I am glad you liked it, cheers nell

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      LOL I've known about Spoonerisms most of my life. I think we all get our tangs toungled up from time to time...

      One year for my birthday, my great-aunt sent me some yardage and (no pattern) but instructions to make a skirt.

      She had deliberately "Spoonerized" the entire set of directions, titled, "How to Skake a Mirt." Mom and I had such fun with that.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, DzyM, lol! skake a mirt! haha! I am useless at making clothes at the best of times let alone one with spoonerisms for the instructions, brilliant! thanks for the laugh, nell

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      Oh this was Fun Nell, you could feel the LOVE you have for your Mom. Lots of Laughs. Yes, I've been Guilty of some Funny ones myself. Good to be able to Laugh at ourselves.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, b. Malin, my mum was the funniest person I have ever known, I really miss her humour, but I can still smile whenever I remember it, I am prone to a few 'muddles' too occasionally, well most of the time. Its usually when I get nervous talking to someone! haha! especially a hot man! you would have thought I would have grown out of that by now, nooo! lol! thanks

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very funny hub, Nell! Your mother must have been a very amusing person to live with. I can't think of anyone that I know who is prone to making spoonerisms, but I enjoy reading about other people who make them.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      Nell, I loved the stories about your Mum. What a great hub and your mother sounds like she was so much fun. Rated up and awesome!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Alicia, I think she did it deliberatly sometimes, either that or she just laughed to much all the time to speak properly! haha! thanks for reading, and I am glad you liked it, cheers nell

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Pamela, yes she was the best mum in the world, and I still so miss her, but can still hear her laugh in my head, thanks so much nell

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This was so funny Nell. It sounds as though you grew up with a lot of laughter, your Mum was a darling. Love the record shop ones.

      I quite often get my tords wangled. I once said to my son 'crink your doke' (drink your coke) and 'The coc dalled' (the doc called) nobody had any idea what I was talking about and of course I couldn't repeat it for laughing.

      Enjoyed reading this and laughed so much.

      Voting up

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      This one really made me laugh as I am frequently known to get my twords wisted (words twisted). I can't even remember how many times I've done it. Mawn lower commonly known as lawn mower and so many, many more. I love your mother even though I didn't know her! This was a great hub, a tribute to a great lady and a lovingly written hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Rosemay, you get your tords wangled? lol! I do too! love the crink your doke! haha! thanks for reading, and I am glad you liked it, cheers nell

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, tills, thanks so much, my mum was the best, I still miss her badly, I love Mawn Lower! haha! my friend is as bad she said paranaranomral instead of paranormal! I was in hysterics! I must admit that I can't say hippopotamus! it always comes out, hippopotatatamus! lol!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      Hilarious! Your mum sounds like a lovely soul indeed. I love that she would stick up for a lady's bladder even though the lady didn't need to pee. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, kitty, lol! I used to walk down the town with her, waiting to see what she would come out with! her famous snort could be heard all down the road when she started laughing! lol! and yes, a ladies bladder is very important! haha! thanks as always, nell

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Nell Rose...What a sweet and comical story. You have provided my laughter for the entire day. How wonderful for you to have such lovely and happy memories of your precious Mom! We've all put the ole foot in the mouth a time or two!! UP ++

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Your Mum is a delight. I love spoonerisms and I envy you for living with the personification of the word. Reminds me of Sheridan's Mrs. Malaprop or maybe Mrs. Slocum from "Are You Being Served"?

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, fpherj, yes we have! lol! I still do it, I blame my mum, it was the way I was brought up! haha! thanks so much, and I am glad it made you laugh, cheers nell

      Hi, Hilary, lol! yes I remember Mrs Slocum, I won't quote her here! lol! my mum was the best mum in the world, and I can still here her funny stories, thanks nell

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted funny and awesome. I dunno, Nell, with the great stories that you tell, and how you do it, I think these things just run in the family. Spoonerism, not. Entertainment, yes!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, avian, lol! thanks so much, my mum used to write stories, either funny or serious, and so did other members of my family too, seems like it does run in the family! thank you again, nell

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Hilarious. Some folks regard spoonerisms on the order of puns. I think they're more sophisticated than that. But then again, I like puns. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, alocsin, glad you liked it, my mum was one of a kind with her spoonerisms! thanks, nell

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 5 years ago from Canada

      Oh Nell! You and your Mum have me laughing all over the place! My daughter, every so often, will mix things up too. She always has me laughing in stitches! XD

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Beth nice to see you, lol! I am glad this made you laugh, my mum was hilarious! sounds like your daughter is on her way to be a great spooneristic! lol! thanks for reading, cheers nell

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      An entertaining hub, Nell. btw, using spoonerisms makes the other's mind work trying to figure out what the other person said so, I would not mind having a conversation with one.

      Voted up and sharing it across :)

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Ruchira, thats true! lol! it took me ages sometimes trying to figure out what my mum said! thanks so much for the vote, nell

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What a funny and endearing anecdote about your Mum, Nell. We all have our spooner moments, but she sounds as though she was a fountain of these gems, providing you with wonderful and precious memories. Up +. :-)

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Genna, yes she was the best! I can still laugh at her spoonerisms even now, I lost her ten years ago, but will never forget how she made me laugh, thanks so much for vote, nell

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      Nell, your Mom sounds like the most adorable woman! And what delightful memories she made for you :)

      Voting up and so happy you shared this.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, beth, Yes my mum was the funniest person I know, I still smile when I think of her funny sayings! lol! thanks so much for reading, cheers nell

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      I voted way up. Go, Nell!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Thanks so much Integrity, glad you liked it, nell

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      You are very welcome, Nell.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      Nell, believe me when I say that I have tears in my eyes (I almost typed ears -lol) now after reading the 'record' story. I have never had such a hearty laugh over anything before. I will never forget the 'flaming lust by Elvis parsley' Nell. I am still laughing as I type this.

      My! A wonderful hub. I am familiar with spoonerisms and when I read this hub, I remembered one such muddling up of words that happened to me (in my vernacular language Tamil) when I was young.

      This hub brought back fond memories of the incident recalling how my friends and I almost rolled on the ground laughing over the incident.

      Thank you very much Nell. You are a great narrator. The way you write is wonderful. And your mother is very beautiful :)

      Cheers, Rema

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi remaniki, lol! yes that was sooo embarrassing! thank you so much, yes my mum was amazing and I still miss her so much, thanks for saying so, glad you liked it, nell

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 4 years ago from Northern California

      Hi Nell. This hub was more fun than a bucketful of doorknobs! (to use an American expression) It reminds me of my late Aunt Betty.

      Her accent was standard (Midwestern) American English. Except for one word, "schedule." She always pronounced it with a British accent. She would say shed-yule, rather than sked-jule. The effect was always hilarious. And yes, it was intentional.

      Voted up, funny, and shared.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi Larry, lol! thats really funny, because I always say it the American way and get yelled at for it! haha! its definitely sked ule, not shed ule, drives me insane! thanks for reading my little spoonerisms, nell

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Nell, I'm so thankful for your mum. If it wasn't for her and her witty, hilarous personality we wouldn't have Nell Rose :) I twist words around so often, I felt very comfortable reading your hub knowing I'm not alone! I could laugh until I'm in tears for some of the spoonerisms I've said and heard. Thank you for the laughs!!!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Thanks Linda, yes my mum was hilarious! lol! I get my words mixed up too, so your in great company there! Haha!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Very funny, Nell! I would love a Damn Jonut, please. ;) Wonderful share on spoonerisms. I think mental slips of the tongue are sometimes very cute. Thanks for sharing! Passing it on!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Lol! thanks midget, yes my mum was very clever at getting her words muddled up! thanks for reading, nell

    • profile image

      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

      Dear Nell,

      This really brought a smile to my face! I feel your love for your mother as well as her great humour. So nice you have such wonderful memories! And thanks for sharing them :)

      Perhaps you will enjoy the books; "Broken English"/"Broken English Two"

      All the best, Lisbeth

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi Lisbeth, yes my mum was so funny! lol! I will check out the book, and thanks so much for coming back!

    • profile image

      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

      You are welcome!

      My own dad was a "practical joker" and I often miss his "tricks" and sometimes very weird surprises.

      The books are actually named "Broken English Spoken Perfectly"/"...Two". Best regards to you

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Thanks Lisbeth great to hear from you again, your dad sounds very similar to my father too! lol! He loved all his practical jokes, thanks again, nell

    • profile image

      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

      Perhaps we should share their stories some time :)

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Great idea Lisbeth, are you going to join us on Hubpages?

    • profile image

      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

      Have I not already done so?

      ... and is it right to ask here? Other people might get irritated as this has nothing to do with spoonerism. Could I write to you directly instead or ask in a forum of some sort?

      Best regards to you! And thanks for getting back to me!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      If you want to write on Hubpages its really easy to do, and we all would love to read your stories, I don't tend to write directly to someone but telling your story on here would be great! I am sure you will get lots of followers, good luck Lisbeth.

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