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illustration Spoonerism



Part of speech: noun

Origin: English, 1921


A transposition of the initial letters of two words


Any error in speech that swaps two syllables between two words

Examples of Spoonerism in a sentence

"He was so nervous to give his speech that he started out with the spoonerism, 'Welcome, fear dends.'"

"If you’re speaking too quickly you might stumble over your words and utter a spoonerism."

About Spoonerism

A slip of the tongue is an idiom for a mistake made while speaking, or when you say something you’re not supposed to reveal. A spoonerism is a specific type of a slip of the tongue. It happens when two sounds, usually at the beginning of two words, are swapped. For example, “know your blose” instead of “blow your nose” would be a spoonerism.

Did you Know?

The word "spoonerism" was inspired by the Reverend William Archibald Spooner. The 19th-century Oxford don was known for switching the first sounds of his words, hence the creation of the term. Many of the spoonerisms attributed to the reverend are thought to be apocryphal, but they’re still funny: “Three cheers for our queer old dean!” Oops! Sorry, Queen Victoria.

illustration Spoonerism

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