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Wednesday, November 16, 2011


When someone mixes up the beginnings of two or more words (usually on accident), the result is called a spoonerism.  The term comes from the name of William A. Spooner (1844-1930), an English clergyman and educator, famous for all of his spoonerisms.

When I was a little girl, up until the age of ten or so, I always called window sills "sindow wills".  Even when people corrected me, I insisted that I had said it the right way.  (I think now that I was confusing the words with "spindle wheel", from one of my favorite Disney films, Sleeping Beauty.)  I still catch myself about to say it as an adult!

Here are a few other examples of spoonerisms:
  • a lack of pies...instead of a pack of lies
  • chew your doors...instead of do your chores
  • plaster man... instead of master plan
  • go shake a tower... instead of go take a shower

While spoonerisms are often accidental, sometimes people say (or write) them on purpose, usually for laughs.  Shel Silverstein even wrote an entire story out of spoonerisms called Runny Babbit, a very silly book! (Or should I say billy sook?)

Have you ever accidentally made a spoonerism?  Have you ever made one on purpose?  If so, I would love to hear them -- please share! :)

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