ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Spoonerisms

Updated on March 27, 2011

Most rutton anyone?

One Christmas Day my grandmother Miemie McGregor looked around the crowded dining table and in her earnest and kindly way asked, "Would anyone like some more most rutton?"

For a moment she looked perplexed at the loots of hafter which greeted her question, then she lapsed into a figgle of gits as she realised what she had said.

Granny had just committed an error of speech called a "spoonerism" after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, an Oxford University Don who, deservedly or not, gained the reputation of switching consonants, vowels or morphemes, as in the mistake my Gran made that Christmas Day.

It is a common form of speech error, now very often deliberately made for humorous effect.

The Reverend Spooner's alleged errors of speech have been the stuff of stories and jokes for years. He himself denied that he was prone to such mistakes, but did admit to having once announced a hymn as "Kinquering Congs Their Titles Take."

Another gaff attributed to him which might though be apocryphal, is the call for "three cheers for our queer old dean", by which was meant "our dear old Queen (Victoria)".

The Rev Dr Spooner stayed at New College for more than 60 years in carious vapacities, and was known for making other speech mistakes, such as inviting a man to a function to welcome a new archaeology fellow. The man said "But I am the new archaeology fellow", to which Spooner is alleged to have replied, "Never mind, come all the same."

Dr Spooner was born in 1844 and died in August 1930, a man respected for his "scholarship, devotion to duty, and wisdom" even though his fame is based more on his lapses of speech.

Some of the more famous of these attributed to him, though they might have originated from his students, are:

  • "The Lord is a shoving leopard"

  • "a half-warmed fish"

  • "Is the bean dizzy?"

Of course, generations of schoolboys have giggled over the spoonerisation (to coin a phrase) of the title of Charles Dickens' famous novel, A Sale of Two Titties, not to mention the "cunning stunts" of the can-can dancers (or acrobats, depending on who's telling it)..

Indeed the spoonerism has been used to disguise risqué statements like "he's not a pheasant plucker," or "she showed me her tool kits."

Spoonerisms have become so popular there is even a FaceBook page for them.

The inventor of Magnetic Poetry, Dave Kapell on his blog Dave's Blog (http://magpo.blogs.com/davesblog/2009/07/naughty-spoonerisms.html) shares his grandmother's favourite poem containing spoonerisms:

"I'm not the fig plucker,
Nor the fig plucker's son,
But I'll pluck your figs
'Til the fig plucker comes."

Some spoonersisms have entered English as almost accepted phrases, like "one swell foop."

A graffito on a wall in Johannesburg had this rather extended pun/spoonerism, which made sense in the rather puritanical atmosphere of 1970s South Africa: "People in grass houses shouldn't get stoned."

Then there are the more commonplace ones like "wave the sails" and "Britannia waives the rules."

Maybe Brangeliina should have thought twice about calling their child Shiloh Pitt, though.

And if you like this Hub you can always make a comprinter putout of it to hit the cooking fat with.

Or you could just Friar Tuck.

My grandmother Miemie McGregor
My grandmother Miemie McGregor
Contemporary cartoon of Spooner
Contemporary cartoon of Spooner

Reverend William Archibald Spooner

The Reverend Spooner's alleged errors of speech have been the stuff of stories and jokes for years. He himself denied that he was prone to such mistakes, but did admit to having once announced a hymn as "Kinquering Congs Their Titles Take."

Another gaff attributed to him which might though be apocryphal, is the call for "three cheers for our queer old dean", by which was meant "our dear old Queen (Victoria)".

The Rev Dr Spooner stayed at New College for more than 60 years in carious vapacities, and was known for making other speech mistakes, such as inviting a man to a function to welcome a new archaeology fellow. The man said "But I am the new archaeology fellow", to which Spooner is alleged to have replied, "Never mind, come all the same."

Dr Spooner was born in 1844 and died in August 1930, a man respected for his "scholarship, devotion to duty, and wisdom" even though his fame is based more on his lapses of speech.

Some of the more famous of these attributed to him, though they might have originated from his students, are:

  • "The Lord is a shoving leopard"

  • "a half-warmed fish"

  • "Is the bean dizzy?"

Of course, generations of schoolboys have giggled over the spoonerisation (to coin a phrase) of the title of Charles Dickens' famous novel, A Sale of Two Titties, not to mention the "cunning stunts" of the can-can dancers (or acrobats, depending on who's telling it)..

Indeed the spoonerism has been used to disguise risqué statements like "he's not a pheasant plucker," or "she showed me her tool kits."

Spoonerisms have become so popular there is even a FaceBook page for them.

The inventor of Magnetic Poetry, Dave Kapell on his blog Dave's Blog (http://magpo.blogs.com/davesblog/2009/07/naughty-spoonerisms.html) shares his grandmother's favourite poem containing spoonerisms:

"I'm not the fig plucker,
Nor the fig plucker's son,
But I'll pluck your figs
'Til the fig plucker comes."

Some spoonersisms have entered English as almost accepted phrases, like "one swell foop."

A graffito on a wall in Johannesburg had this rather extended pun/spoonerism, which made sense in the rather puritanical atmosphere of 1970s South Africa: "People in grass houses shouldn't get stoned."

Then there are the more commonplace ones like "wave the sails" and "Britannia waives the rules."

Maybe Brangeliina should have thought twice about calling their child Shiloh Pitt, though.

And if you like this Hub you can always make a comprinter putout of it to hit the cooking fat with.

Or you could just Friar Tuck.

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2009

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great hub reminds me of when I was at college and I was hissing all my mystery lessons. Voted up FUI

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 

      7 years ago

      Tony - thanks brother. As ever, Sem

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Sembj - thanks for the kind words, I appreciate them very much.

      Thanks for the link. I'm adding a link here to your's!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 

      7 years ago

      Hi Tony:

      I've just finished reading your article and have linked a piece I've just finished called A Tongue Twister Is More Than Just A Laughing Matter. Your fun loving approach to language is the kind of spirit that should inspire all teachers - but particular those who teach English. I'm sure my article is improved by the link - thanks.

      Sembj

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Peggy - they are usually funniest when they just happen like that! Thanks bopping sty - I appreciate it.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I've been guilty of doing that on occasion (by mistake) and it is always good for a laugh. Did not realize that it was called a spoonerism. Enjoyed this hub. Thanks! Gets a useful and funny rating.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Neelesh - sorry I didn't notice this comment before! Thanks so much and just love that spoonerism!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • neeleshkulkarni profile image

      neeleshkulkarni 

      7 years ago from new delhi

      you have a werrific tit

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Katie - indeed laughter is a great uplifter of the spirit! I love a good laugh and plays on words can be very funny.

      Exercising the smile muscles is very good for the health!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 

      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      Wonderful, God does have a sense of humor and I say he and Jesus want us all to laugh more and smile constantly. Thanks for delivering on a light hearted and wonderful uplifting smile! Peace :)

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Christine - thanks for the visit and the comment. Bopping drombs actually sounds quite cool!

      Thanks again.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 

      8 years ago

      My earliest spoonerisms were gutting the shate so that the dog wouldn't escape and bopping drombs (doesn't sound nearly so dangerous that way). I've since refined the art through plenty of practice.

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 

      8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Great hub Tony! I've always enjoyed playing with words. If you're gardening & make a sloping cut, in the Rev spooner's world it becomes a 'coping slut'!

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Dim - thanks, glad you had fun with this one! Love the "povel and shick" one - it's priceless!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Oh Tony. Can't believe I haven't noticed this one before. My sides hurt from laughing. One of my friends was fed up with gardening one day and told me "So, there I was with my povel and shick." Even the word spoonerism makes me laugh. Poor man.! Thanks for making my day.

      peace, as always.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Maudie - indeed one can forget and it can get one into a bit of trouble someetimes!

      Thanks everyone for the reads and the comments. Appreciated

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • missmaudie profile image

      missmaudie 

      8 years ago from Brittany, France

      Very funny! We lived next to the beach when I was a child and always talked of making cand sastles and leaving the car in the par cark. In fact you can get so used to saying things this way you forget you're doing it.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      8 years ago from St. Louis

      Well done, Tony! Much I hadn't heard before. A particular surprise were the "naughty" examples, which I had not come across before. Bravo!

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen Lewis 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Mot do you wean? A Gritish bal mike lyself nould wever use Spoonerisms ~ actually I didn't realize they were called Spoonerisms, thanks for the information and funny hub!

    • Bail Up ! profile image

      Bail Up ! 

      9 years ago

      This was most excellent. Very smucking fart! Thanks for the laugh.

    • profile image

      Peter Kirstein 

      9 years ago

      Had a good chuckle, thanks Tony. Greetings to you and the whole fam damily!

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      9 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      You ought to check out the Internet for Ronnie Barker, a British comedian, now sadly passed, who was the master of spoonerisms, both he and his comedy partner Ronnie Corbett, who were know together as the 2 Ronnie's.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      I had run fighting this! Thanks for your comments, they are truly appreciated.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • profile image

      Anthony James Barnett - author 

      9 years ago

      Funny stuff, Tony. I think we've all enjoyed such comedy shows in the past.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      I enjoyed learning about spoonerisms. Thank you for such a fun and well research read! Can't think of a spoonerism to end with, so I'll just say "Dell won!" MM

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      A fun read, Tony. Thanks.

    • Kitchen_Witch profile image

      Kitchen_Witch 

      9 years ago from The Green Studio of Musings

      Ha ha aha hahahahahah Gamergirl always needs to translate for me.

    • Treasured Pasts profile image

      Treasured Pasts 

      9 years ago from Commerce, Texas

      I was speechless. My tangue got all toungled and my turds got wisted. Great hub! We saw a master of this named Zilch the Tory Steller at the Ren festival near Dallas.

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 

      9 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      very new to me - spoonerism. interesting information.

    • EverythingMouse profile image

      EverythingMouse 

      9 years ago

      This one made me smile!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 

      9 years ago from Northern Arizona

      I'm guilty of a spoonerism...Bringing some refreshments to work one morning I announced in a loud voice " I've got drolls and rollnuts !! " Even the surly union rep laughed at that...Thanks for another interesting Hub, Tony...Larry

    • reviyve profile image

      reviyve 

      9 years ago from New York

      interesting hub this one. I couldn't have thought of anything as creative!

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 

      9 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Nice one Tony, thanks, it made me smile. I'm amazed at how family spoonerisms become long-lasting pet phrases. One of ours is, "Don't be such a Solly!" (When Leyla was three she called me a Solly Sillage).

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 

      9 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      That was a great hub! I seem to speak in spoonerisms sometimes and my kids say, "Oh, we just need a Mom translator."

    • Lucey Knight profile image

      Lucey Knight 

      9 years ago from North Richland Hills, Texas

      Good hub. Very well written.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)