Puns, Spoonerisms, & Malapropisms
by doreen peri
About a year ago someone asked the definition of "malapropism". What ensued was
a somewhat lengthy discussion about "word plays," which we all found quite
enjoyable. Since this newsletter issue has a theme of humor, we thought we'd talk a bit
about the difference between several types of "plays on words" and let the
readers in to some of our previous discussion.
Basically, there are three different types of "play on words" recognized and
defined in the English language (well, there may be more than three, but as far as I know
these are the main three) - Pun, Spoonerism, and Malapropism. I've always enjoyed this
type of humor and often, even in every day speech and to the point of boring friends and
relatives, throw one in. (I'm really not TRYING to get a laugh - I just can't help myself.
LOL). OK, so here we go with some definitions. (I love this stuff!)
#1 Pun - "A pun is a CLEVER AND INTENTIONAL play on words and
humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the
meaning of another word similar in sound." [Emphasis added]
Here's an Example of a pun:
"There were 12 rabbits and we divided them in the pen, 6 on one side and 6 on the
other side. I can't believe my mother said we were splitting hares!"
#2 Spoonerism - "William A. Spooner [died 1930, English
clergyman & educator] First appeared 1900 - a transposition of usually initial sounds
of two or more words"
Example of a spoonerism:
Saying "tons of soil" for "sons of toil".
Another famous spoonerism (to my family, at least) is the joke about a baseball pitcher by
the name of Mel Famey who drank too many beers before pitching the game. Punch line,
"It was the beer that made Mel Famey walk us." (The beer that made Milwaukee
And there's another joke about a piano tuner by the name of "Oburnokity" who
would only tune a piano once. When asked why, he said, "Oburnokity only tunes
#3 Malapropism - "The usually UNINTENTIONALLY humorous misuse or
distortion of a word or phrase; especially, the use of a word sounding somewhat like the
one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context"
From a web site about malapropisms called Conan the Grammarian: "Mrs. Malaprop, for
whom these misused words are named, was the leading lady in Richard Sheridan's 'The
Rivals,' a late eighteenth-century play about a lady whose husband came into some money
and who was thrust into the uppercrud of society. Mrs. Malaprop did not want to seem out
of place, so she simply used big words to appear genteel. Malapropisms are in the same
class as spoonerisms and puns, but are not for the feint of heart."
Examples of malapropism (quoted from another web site):
The man is an idiom.
He wears shoes made of
I resemble that remark!
We had a 15 inch erotic house
plant in our living room.
I need the afternoon off to
attend my brother's consummation.
That's a mute point.
So, I hope you all enjoyed these! And may your speech and writing be fiddled with run. I
mean riddled with fun. And may you enjoy your next erotic vacation, oops, I mean exotic
vacation on an island in the Pacific. Geesh!
Potty Party - A Punny Poem
introduction by doreen peri
On the Passions in Poetry Forums, we have this inane group of poets who say they live in a
'stute and post some pretty crazy verse. Their pen names are punny, if you know what I
mean. There's Justin Thyme, Justin Kace, Justin Consistent, Justin Tolerable, Justin
Ebriated, and Justin Sayne, to name justin a few. I thought I'd share a poem from Justin
Thyme, who is a very dear friend of mine, because it has several puns in it and also an
oxymoron. The poem has a little fun with the ongoing debate about whether the seat on the
toilet should be left up or down.
by Justin Thyme
|I spent the night at Shirley's house
following her gig.
I had come to have some fun,
but partied like a pig!
I had had way too much to drink
so slept upon the floor.
I couldn't drive my Chevrolet,
I couldn't see the door.
I asked if I could sleep with Shirl.
My girlfriend was the best.
But all she did was say her name,
saying, "Shirley, U. Jest."
Some others stayed at Shirley's, too;
because they couldn't drive.
My Shirley was their friend indeed
and helped keep them alive.
I soon awoke at 4AM -
I had to take a leak.
I went to Shirley's second bath.
My knees were getting weak.
I didn't turn the light switch on -
I just wanted to pee.
But some girl left the round seat down!
I splashed upon my knee!
I cursed so loud (but no one woke)
and then raised up the seat.
I'm courteous to most, you see -
my splash will not repeat!
I went to sleep back on the floor
but soon I heard a scream!
Justine Ormous fell right in
the potty, so it seemed!
"Uh oh," I said, then hid my head,
since I am no conformist!
I left the seat up for the guys,
but feared this Justine Ormous.
The chick was huge! She'd tear me up!
I did not leave the seat up!
I'd lie 'til May, I'd lie 'til June!
I'd hated to get beat up!
Justine came out, her butt now dry,
(the chef the night before).
And so I rose to talk to her.
I couldn't sleep no more.
I didn't mention toilet seats,
instead I praised the cooking.
I said I liked her Jumbo Shrimp,
and said she was good looking.
"Jumbo Shrimp?" she said to me,
then called me "oxymoron."
She didn't make the shrimp, you see;
we had a minor war on!
And so I thought, oh lucky me!
This could be Armageddon
if she had thought the lid was up
because I was forgettin'.
And so next time Justine's around,
make sure you leave the potty seat down.
(c) 1999, Justin Thyme
all rights reserved
Something of a Humorous Nature
by Christopher Ward
It never ceases to amaze me when I think of the resiliency of the human spirit.
Specifically, I'm speaking of what happens when you throw a diverse group of people (did
someone say poets?) together in a forum and watch them interact. To see that tangled web
of wit and witticism, the by-play of words, and intimations is enough to make a person go
That these people manage to be so kind and caring - much less be on
a civil speaking level - is enough to almost renew your faith in the basic goodness of
Someone once asked if people thought that poets were more
"intense." After spending almost a year at this loveable madhouse called
'Passions Forums'; I'd have to emphatically say YES! We have more egos and disparate
opinions than most legislative bodies! We have people who believe the Earth is square,
people who believe Elvis is working in a donut shop near downtown Seattle, and people who
believe that you should not believe in anything.
Inevitably, someone will get in an uproar over what the other said
and will end up duking it out in digital ink. More often than not, the instigator is
simply doing that, stirring up trouble for the sake of pushing those poetic buttons. Back
and forth they go, yelling and screaming loudly in bold letters until finally,
"dad" comes in with his wisdom (I think he gets it from a book by that Dr. Spock
guy) and calmly sits everyone down while he patiently explains the facts of life in the
stern but kind voice of reason. This voice echoes loudly across the land, (taking up a lot
of bandwidth) impressing itself onto even the most close-minded.
Everyone then sits around in a stupefied daze, looking at each other in a different light
(mostly a pale blue and neon green). The group hugs, kisses and makes up, vowing to love
their fellow humans forever after. Of course, the next day someone starts a fight over
whether the toilet seat should be left up or down. But, for the briefest of moments there
is harmony in the land of digital passions and all is well.
And this is what I mean by resiliency. Even through the darkest hours, one can be assured
that as the sun shall rise, the poets shall bounce back with a fervor seen in few other
forums. One could say that it's amazing that these strange creatures we call writers care
so much for each other despite their differences, but I see it otherwise. I think they
care so much because they're so different!
by Craig Walker
by Craig Walker
|The Hellarwe pigmy tribe
are a sight you seldom see,
Cause they inhabit six foot grass
yet they're only four foot three.
They were found by an explorer
who had climbed a Juju tree,
And saw them leaping up and down
chanting, "we're the Hellarwe ".
Interview With Kit McCallum
by John aka Sven
Sven: When did you begin to write your poetry?
Kit: I have been writing ever since I can remember. The oldest poem that
I had preserved from my youth, went something like this:
In the room in the back of a little red house, Shone a light through the window, only
heard was a mouse. And yet a small girl, at the age of 10, Wondered why she was born ...
what is life ...does it end?
I guess you could say I've been penning poems and questioning life for almost 30 years
(ouch). I find it's the one true constant in my life, and something I've always enjoyed. I
scribbled little poems on all sorts of scraps of paper (losing many I'm sure), until my
parents gave me the best Christmas gift of all time. They called it a "Nothing
It was a soft cover book that contained blank pages for drawing, and endless lined pages
for writing. On the front cover, it listed "Ideas & Insights", "Dreams
& Revelations", "Fantasies", "Great Truths, Realistic Data, Heavy
Thinking", "Silly Doodles", "& Other Terrific Stuff". In the
upper corner were the words "Write Your Own Book". Well, needless to say write I
did. I still have that worn, dog-eared, raggedy, old book beside me, now "copyright
1977." It was followed rather quickly by a second, larger "Nothing Book"
(this time hard cover), where my scribbles continued for years.
Sven: Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Kit: If I look back to my "Nothing Books," nothing has changed.
On the inside cover of my second book, in 1978, I wrote in big, bold, young, teenage flair
"How I've Kept My Sanity." It's still true to this day! Writing has regularly
been a form of therapy for me. I've often joked that although my father is a psychiatrist,
I've spent more time pouring out my heart to my "pen" than anyone or anything
I find I am drawn to write poetry when I'm either extremely "up" or extremely
"down". I've been told I "wear my heart on my sleeve" and I guess
there's some truth to that. A lot of my poems are simply an exploration of feelings. There
are the times when I write simply to give thanks for all that I have and want to shout it
to the world or on the flip side, I write to question anything and everything in life,
looking for the answers that seem to constantly elude me.
Often I'll write simply to let people know how I feel about them from family, to friends,
to co-workers, and increasingly often, to the wonderful poets here at Passions. My biggest
inspiration by far, is my mother. Many a poem in my family section of my web site reflects
my love and adoration for both my father and mother. I truly believe that when you
"feel it," "say it."
Sven: Would you tell us some details about yourself.
Kit: I've been happily married for almost 20 years, have a wonderful
family and extended family who inspire me daily. I was not fortunate to have children of
my own, so my family and myriad of pets have been my little world. The loss of my
12-year-old German Shepherd sent me in a tailspin last year, and many poems ensued from
that sorrowful experience.
Sven: How did you come upon Passions and do you feel that there's less or
more interest in poetry as a literary form these days?
I found Passions shortly after it began. I read a magazine article that said poetry was a
"dying art". It was a horrible article and talked very "lowly" of
poets of any kind. I'd been writing since I could remember, and here this silly person was
telling me I was a dinosaur! I was so disappointed, and to be honest, extremely angry with
the writer. I set out to search the Internet to see if I was some lost soul holding onto
something that no one cared about anymore.
I found a few sites, but nothing that caught my eye until Passions in Poetry. I submitted
five poems to the main site in March 1999. I loved the "prequels" Ron added to
each of them. I couldn't imagine anyone being able to take the time he must have, to read
and summarize each one with such incredible words and care. He had me hooked right then
Then I began to receive such wonderful e-mails from people all over, saying how they
related or were touched by various poems I'd submitted to Passions. Each one would make my
day. I found myself responding and saving each and every one. I think the greatest joy I
receive is hearing that someone picked up the phone, and called their father, mother or
friend after reading one of them. One gentleman once asked me if he could use my
"Dad" poem as the centerpiece for a collage he was creating for his mother,
after the passing of his father. I could think of no greater honor. Many others have
written to me about mother/daughter relationships, friendships, and dealing with life and
crisis. I continue to receive comments almost weekly, and each and every one is a treasure
I hold so dear.
That takes me to the Passion's forums. I was far too shy to join initially, just happy to
sit on the sidelines and watch from a distance. I'm glad I came out of hiding though, as
every day feels like Christmas when I read even one heartfelt response from one reader to
another, from one poet to another. This is a lovely "home", and has such a safe
and compassionate feel. It's my newest addiction I fear.
Now I'm thankful to the ignorant writer of the initial article that said, "poetry was
a dying art", for he didn't know poetry is clearly alive and well, and it's dwelling
here at Passions!
To read more from Kit McCallum go to this page: http://netpoets.com/poems/authors/0406000.htm
All About Limericks
by Nancy Ness
|So you want to know how to write Lim'ricks,
And you think I can show you some quick tricks?
You can ask all you might
But your own you can write
For there really are no secret gimmicks!!
What's so special about limericks, anyway? They're
just five little lines of corny, quirky, comical poetry, aren't they? Just why is it that
everyone loves them so much? It seems to me that the common denominator is Everyone, and I
do mean everyone, would rather laugh than scowl - and limericks make us laugh. They're a
momentary escape into the wonderful world of humor.
This whimsical form of light verse was widely popularized by Edward Lear
in the mid 1800's with the publication of his "Book of Nonsense." Its origins,
however, are believed to have been from a century earlier when the Irish Brigade sang a
chorus enroute from France to Ireland. The English devised their first official limerick
in 1744 - a well-known ditty that is probably familiar to you. Who doesn't smile just a
bit when they recall these words?
|Hickory, Dickory, Dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
And down he ran
Hickory, Dickory, Dock!
How do we write limericks? A limerick is funny, it's
just five lines, and it's written in verse that has a particular pattern of rhyme and
Let's start with the rhyme scheme. Limericks are written with a specific rhyme scheme of
"a-a-b-b-a." In other words, the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each
other, as do the third and fourth.
It's the meter that gives this form of poetry its unique character. Limericks are written
in "anapestic meter." That means each line is comprised of anapestic feet with a
"short-short-long" syllable stress pattern.
(Ignore this part if you're not into the technical stuff.) Although the first syllable of
verse is frequently altered for effect, the format characteristically follows a pattern
Line 1 - anapestic trimeter - three anapestics
Line 2 - anapestic trimeter - three anapestics
Line 3 - anapestic dimeter - two anapestics
Line 4 - anapestic dimeter - two anapestics
Line 5 - anapestic trimeter - three anapestics
OK everyone, c'mon back now. If that didn't make any sense to you at all, the format is
more simply described by following this rhythm -
That's all there is to it, folks. Try it - you'll like it. Oh, and above all, have some
fun writing - for smilin' out loud!
|So, just pick up your pencil and think
Something funny and keep it in sync
A great poet or not
If those lyrics you're got
Your readers will be tickled pink!
Where I Get My Inspiration
by Shan Crider aka StarrGazer
Have you ever stood out in an open field and heard the wind whispering through the trees
behind you? Have you ever seen the grass swaying with laughter? Ever heard the birds'
chatter floating through the air and wondered what their conversation was about? What the
grass finds so humorous? Or what possible mysteries the wind holds? Have you ever tried to
put yourself in some one else's position, to feel their emotions?
Writing allows me to do this. I can transpose my emotions onto an object and, for a moment
or two, give it a voice. I can become the bird, the grass, and the wind. Life is my
inspiration for writing, the good, the bad; the real, the surreal; all seem to blend
together. Happiness and sadness, nature and people make up this magnificent, but sometimes
tragic, story that begs to be told.
All these things whisper to my heart and give my pen a little nudge. My pen then helps
them come to life, so, for an instant, someone might see things as I do, and might somehow
relate. Each blade of grass, each feather, each tear drop, each smile becomes my muse and
inspires me to write.
by Poet deVine
by Poet deVine
heart not beating
death by meeting.
The Final Word
by Poet deVine
We hope you enjoyed this issue dedicated to humor in poetry. If you'd like to read more,
please follow this link to the Humor Section poetry
You will always find emotion in poetry, something to make you smile or make you cry. We
hope you've smiled today. As always, if you'd like to ask a question or make a suggestion,
please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd be happy to help.
Until next time, take care!
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