Dr. Spooner of New College, Oxford, has been credited with accidentally uttering
a number of amusing verbal transpositions such as :- " Kinquering congs their titles take "
It seems however that although Spooner had an occasional tendency towards such
verbal transposition this habit was seized upon, circa 1885 when the word Spoonerism was coined in
association with Spooner's little slips,
such that students began devising transpositional puns and attributing them to Dr. Spooner.
The several examples of Spoonerism that have been sometimes attributed to
Dr. Spooner include such gems as :-
Dr. Spooner seems to have been a little disconcerted by the way in which his occasional modest
verbal transpositions were taken up by the students of Oxford. Once when a group of students
clamoured outside his window for him to make a speech, he called down: "You don't want
to hear a speech: you just want me to say one of those... things."
"Blushing crow" for "crushing blow"
A well-boiled icicle" for "well-oiled bicycle."
"I have in my bosom a half-warmed fish" (for half-formed wish).
He raised this toast to Her Highness Victoria: "Three cheers for our queer old dean!"
Upon dropping his hat: "Will nobody pat my hiccup?"
At a wedding: "It is kisstomary to cuss the bride."
Paying a visit to a college official: "Is the bean dizzy?"
Addressing farmers as "ye noble tons of soil"
Visiting a friend's country cottage: "You have a nosey little crook here."
He reprimanded one student for "fighting a liar in the quadrangle"
Another stern reprimand to a misbehaving student:- "You have hissed all my mystery lectures. You have tasted two worms. Pack up your rags and bugs, and leave immediately by the town drain!"
"Mardon me padom, you are occupewing my pie. May I sew you to another sheet?"
Dictionary of Quotations 3rd edition (1979), recognises only one authentic
Spoonerism ("weight of rages") - as in "The weight of rages will press hard upon the employer," -
and says: "Many other Spoonerisms,
such as those given in the previous editions of O.D.Q., are now
known to be apocryphal."
Dr. Spooner of Oxford
An outline biography
Popular European History pages
- 1 The European Revolution of 1848 begins
- A broad outline of the background to the onset of the turmoils and a consideration of some of the early events.
- 2 The French Revolution of 1848
- A particular focus on France - as the influential Austrian minister Prince Metternich, who sought to encourage the re-establishment of "Order" in the wake of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic turmoils of 1789-1815, said:-"When France sneezes Europe catches a cold".
- 3 The Revolution of 1848 in the German Lands and central Europe
- "Germany" had a movement for a single parliament in 1848 and many central European would-be "nations" attempted
to assert a distinct existence separate from the dynastic sovereignties they had been living under.
- 4 The "Italian" Revolution of 1848
- A "liberal" Papacy after 1846 helps allow the embers of an "Italian" national aspiration to rekindle across the Italian Peninsula.
- 5 The Monarchs recover power 1848-1849
- Some instances of social and political extremism allow previously pro-reform conservative elements to support
the return of traditional authority. Louis Napoleon, (who later became the Emperor Napoleon III), attains to power
in France offering social stability at home but ultimately follows policies productive of dramatic change in the wider European
structure of states and their sovereignty.