A Big Heap of Shining Wit

I love spoonerisms. What’s a spoonerism, you say? It’s a phrase in which letters or syllables are swapped to make a new, punny meaning. The best spoonerism I’ve ever heard, by a long shot, is courtesy of Anu Garg, the editor of Wordsmith.org:

Rev. William Archibald Spooner, the father of spoonerism, not only gave the English language a new word, an eponym, but also an artful device for repartee. The story goes that a member of parliament cut off another calling him a shining wit, and then apologized for making a spoonerism.

In this CNBC interview with Warren Buffett, the interviewer makes a nice (if inadvertent) spoonerism, when she tries to say that “average retail investors feeling that they can’t get a fair shake” in the stock market because the game is weighted toward special interests. But instead of “fair shake,” she says “share fake.” Which pretty perfectly summarizes what those retails investors are afraid of getting.

Do you have any good spoonerisms for us?


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  1. James Curran says:

    Back when I was in college (early ’80s), some friends tried to start a music/fashion magazine, which they were going to called “Snake, Waddle and Wool”, with a snake, duck and sheep as mascots. The snake and sheep were anonymous, but the duck was named: “Duck Fisco” (because they couldn’t call him “F#@&– Disco”)

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  2. ari says:

    My favourite is an Australian institution. Whether it came from a TV show, or some other pop culture reference, I’m not sure, but regularly ‘no fucking worries’ is ‘spoonerised’ to ‘no wucking forries’, or simply, ‘no wuckas’.

    As an aside, I’m not convinced that a spoonerism needs to have a new, punny meaning. Acedotally, the best spoonerisms result in made up words that just plain sound dumb.

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  3. Buce says:

    My mother loved to say:

    Mardon me padam but you’re occupewing the wrong pie. May I sew you to another sheet?

    I’m not sure this quite counts but I am reminded of the canonical newspaper correction:

    We were wrong to say that Blodge is a defective on the police force. We meant to say that he is a detective on the police farce.

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  4. Dave says:

    There’s a country song by Toby Keith called “American Ride” that contains a spoonerism:
    If the shoe don’t fit, the fits gonna hit the shan.

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  5. Marin says:

    Mom was a nurse, and therefore medically inclined. Dad had a bump in his eyelid that she was abnormally interested in. After she queried him and poked him for the umpteenth time, he said, “Isn’t this romantic? Just you and me, gazing at the scars in the stye.”

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  6. Matt says:

    There’s a great line from A Shot in the Dark, where Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau exclaims: “And I submit, Inspector Ballon, that you arrived home, found Miguel with Maria Gambrelli, and killed him in a rit of fealous jage!”

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  7. Mike says:

    Poor Shiloh Pitt.

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  8. CF says:

    When making lunch for my kids, I often ask if they want any “chilled grease”.

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