spoonerism

[ spoo-nuh-riz-uh m ]
/ ˈspu nəˌrɪz əm /

noun

the transposition of initial or other sounds of words, usually by accident, as in a blushing crow for a crushing blow.

RELATED WORDS

Origin of spoonerism

1895–1900; after W. A. Spooner (1844–1930), English clergyman noted for such slips; see -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for spoonerism

spoonerism

/ (ˈspuːnəˌrɪzəm) /

noun

the transposition of the initial consonants or consonant clusters of a pair of words, often resulting in an amusing ambiguity of meaning, such as hush my brat for brush my hat

Word Origin for spoonerism

C20: named after W. A. Spooner (1844–1930), English clergyman renowned for slips of this kind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Culture definitions for spoonerism

spoonerism

A reversal of sounds in two words, with humorous effect. Spoonerisms were named after William Spooner, an English clergyman and scholar of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In one spoonerism attributed to him, he meant “May I show you to another seat?” but said, “May I sew you to another sheet?”


The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.