Fun Friday: Spoonerisms

The Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), warden of New College, Oxford was notoriously prone to the tendency of switching the first syllables of words.  Although it is debated which “spoonerisms” were actually his and which were those of his colleagues they are all clever.

Spooner is attributed to saying the following:

  • Fighting a liar (lighting a fire)
  • You hissed my mystery lecture (you missed my history lecture)
  • Cattle ships and bruisers (battle ships and cruisers)
  • Nosey little cook (cosy little nook)
  • A blushing crow (a crushing blow)
  • Tons of soil (sons of toil)
  • Our queer old Dean (our dear old Queen)
  • We’ll have the hags flung out (we’ll have the flags hung out)
  • You’ve tasted two worms (you’ve wasted two terms)
  • Our shoving leopard (out loving shepherd)
  • A half-warmed fish (a half-formed wish)
  • Is the bean dizzy? (is the Dean busy?)

Some other amusing spoonerisms include:

  • Know your blows (blow your nose)
  • Go and shake a tower (take a shower)
  • Tease my ears (ease my tears)
  • Nicking your pose (picking your nose)
  • You have very mad banners (bad manners)
  • Lack of pies (pack of lies)
  • It’s roaring with pain (pouring with rain)
  • Sealing the hick (healing the sick)
  • Bowel feast (foul beast)
  • Wave the sails (save the whales)
  • Chipping the flannel (flipping the channel)

These spoonerisms and more are found at:

To learn more about spoonerisms check out Wikipedia: Spoonerisms


About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, will be published November 2018 by Immortal Works Press. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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12 Responses to Fun Friday: Spoonerisms

  1. nrhatch says:

    The foul (fowl?) beast became a bowel feast . . . but not for me.

    I’m a vegetarian. : )

    Like post, Jo! Off to post it on FB!

  2. Do Spoonerisms rely more on oral switching of the beginning sounds of words than on written letter switches?

    • tsuchigari says:

      It is strictly verbal humor, writing doesn’t capture the “in the moment” feel. I’ve never seen it used in literature except perhaps in drunken dialogue.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Review #14 « My Literary Quest

  4. cubbageg says:

    The Washington-based comedy group The Capitol Steps close their acts off with spoonerized monologues — here’s a link to a few of the recent ones, if anyone wants to take a look. Good fun, though like many political humorists, they arguably peaked during the late Clinton years…

  5. Paula says:

    Did you see John Stewart’s riff on BP? VERY FUNNY and included a great Spoonerism: The TOP HAT they are trying to cap the spill with is going to be followed by (if it does not work) a HOT TAP…I guess not really a Spoonerism, because it’s true! 😀

  6. Pingback: Friday Fun: Spoonerisms Revisited « My Literary Quest

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