6 Spoonerisms(and Other Twists of the Tongue)

Once upon a time in a coreign fountry, there lived a very geautiful birl. Her name was Rindercella. She lived with her mother and her two sisters and in the same coreign fountry there lived a very pandsome hrince…. Well, you better know what’s going to follow next. You might be wondering that why the word’s letters are being exchanged? Here comes the term SPOONERISM.

It is an accidental activity and creates a comic effect. As in the above story, Cindrella is pronounced as ‘Rindercella’(‘r’ and ‘c’ are exchanged), foreign country as ‘coreign fountry’(‘c’ and ‘f’ are exchanged), handsome prince as ‘pandsome hrince’(‘p’ and ‘h’ are exchanged).

So, the slip of the tongue is responsible for such blunder accidents. The term Spoonerism has been derived from the name of WILLIAM A. SPOONER who is well-known for making such tongue twists.

A SPOONERISM is where a switch in the first letters or phonetic sounds of two consecutive words creares a new pair of words and their meanings get twisted. It is basically an exchange. Moreover, its scientific name in Greek is METAPHASIS. It is observed that consonants are often transposed than vowels.

Some of William’s famous spoonerisms are:

  • I am a word botcher – (bird watcher).
  • The lord is a shoving leopard – (loving shepherd).
  • You were fighting a liar in the quadrangle – (lighting a fire).

6 famous spoonerisms over the years:

  • RINDERCELLA Archie Campbell is a well-known writer recognised for his long-running skits. He loved using spoonerisms in the skits on the show. Campbell’s Rindercella is his best creation of spoonerism. A girl who slopped her dipper. Also, there was a Beeping Sleauty.
  • THE CANADIAN BROADCORPING CASTRATION Just imagine when it was being live on the air as “The Canadian Broadcorping Castration” instead of “The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation”. The poor broadcaster had accidentally turned himself an element of joke in from of the mass.
  • BASS-ACKWARDS Abrahan Lincoln was fond of spoonerisms. His one of the letters contained, “He said he was riding bass-ackwards on a jass-ack through a patton-crotch.”
  • RUNNY BABBIT Runny Babbit: A billy sook was written by Shel Silverstein and you could infer that this book is flooded with spoonerisms as the name suggests.
  • HOOBERT HEEVER You might have burst into laughter after reading this name. If you wish to get that feeling more, then try saying it again and again but at the end it’s going to be all fun for most of us. But, it could be a biggest mistake if you are a broadcaster. There was a broadcaster Harry Von Zell who was talking about Hover’s life as a part of his birthday tribute. After making it long, his tongue slipped and he accidentally referred to the President as “Hoobert Heever”. But fortunately, the device was not operative and his career was fine. Also, this is a “Kniferism”, another tongue twister and not a spoonerism as it has reverses the middle syllables of the words instead of the initials.
  • APOSTLE PEALE Norman Vincent Peale was a protestant preacher who used to dislike Adlai Stevenson. So, once Stevenson intentionally used a spoonerism in his speech saying, “Speaking as a Christian, I find the Apostle Paul appealing and the Apostle Peale appalling.”

Some more spoonerisms are listed below:

  • you’ve tasted two worms – (you’ve wasted two terms)
  • a half-warmed fish – (a half-formed wish)
  • I am mending the sail – (I am sending the mail)
  • I’ll slap fight in your race – (I’ll slap right in your face)
  • two of hearts – (who of tarts)
  • no tails – (toe nails) …………………..the list is never ending..

Other tongue twisters:


similarly., like spoonerisms, it also involves accidental mixing up of words. But, Freudian slips are less accidental than spoonerisms. The ycome out as the words from you sub-conscious thoughts that you are holding back. In other words, Freudian slip is meant to reveal what you were thinking of. It is named after Sigmund Freud, who was a famous neurologist.


It is a verbal mistake in which a word is substituted with another word that sounds similar but means something entirely different. It leads to comic effect. The word is taken from the character, Mrs. Malaprop, in a 1775 play called The Rivals. The word Malaprop is considered as incorrect which is interchangeable with the word malapropism.


It refer to the reversing of the middle syllables of the words instead of the initials.

Ex: During a live broadcast in 1931, a radio presenter Harry Von Zell accidentlly mispronounced US President Herbert Hoover’s name as “Hoobert Heever.”

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