A spoonful of vocabulary fun

by Patricia Hipwell August 15, 2018

A spoonful of vocabulary fun

The Reverend Spooner (1844–1930, of New College, Oxford) was famous for transposing the beginning sounds of his words. Apparently, he thought much more quickly than he spoke, and the result was often amusing expressions with muddled meanings.

Some of the spoonerisms popularly attributed to Rev Spooner include:

  • At a wedding it is kisstomary to cuss the bride. (customary to kiss)
  • This news is a blushing crow! (crushing blow)
  • The Lord is a shoving leopard. (loving shepherd)
  • This is a well-boiled icicle (well-oiled bicycle) 
  • Go and shake a tower (take a shower)

You can introduce your students to these amusing errors – and get them correct or write spoonerisms as an exercise to build their vocabulary.

Remember, students must be exposed to a word or term at least a dozen times before they can confidently use it in their writing. Writing exercises using spoonerisms, and other quirks of the English language, will help foster a deep understanding of words and terms without soaring your students billy.  

See how you go unscrambling these spoonerisms:

  • Can you please cart the star for me?
  • Would you like some belly jeans?
  • I think you have been told a lack of pies.
  • She is famous for sealing the hick.
  • Are those bedding wells I hear?
  • Out came a bowel feast…
  • It’s important that we act to wave the sails.
  • Could you pat my hiccup, please?
  • This one is taken; can I sew you to another sheet?
  • He is mean as custard about this game.
  • You’ll need an umbrella, it’s roaring with pain!
  • She needs matches – she’s fighting a liar.
  • What a nosey little cook!
  • Please stop nicking your pose, you have very mad banners.
  • It’s faster than the lead of spite.
  • This is the pun fart.
  • You have a bat flattery.
  • I hit my bunny phone!
  • We have a soul of ballad for lunch.

Patricia Hipwell
Patricia Hipwell


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