Tom Swifties are a form of wordplay based on the narrative style of the Tom Swift books and often overlooked by ( pundits or dismissed as juvenille. On the contrary, they're highly structured and have many variations. The formula is simple: a Tom Swifty is composed of a quote, spoken by Tom, and an adverb with a direct relation to a target in the quote. As an example of a very basic Swifty:

"It sometimes gets lonely here on the farm," said Tom sheepishly.

A proper Swifty will ellicit a groan of disdain, but one well constructed will delight any fan of puns.

Of course, there are many variations. Here's a list of a few:

  • Synonymy: "I wish I were taller," Tom said longingly.
  • Antonymy: "I wish I were taller," Tom said shortly.
  • Hyponymy: "I’ll have the lamb," Tom said sheepishly.
  • Metonymy: "I hate pizza," Tom said crustily.
  • Instrument: "I’m being crucified," Tom said crossly.
  • Domain: "I hate chemistry," Tom said acidly.
  • Quality: "There’s too much tabasco in this chili," Tom said hotly.
  • Paraphrase: "It’s a unit of electric current," said Tom amply.
  • Pragmatic: "This boat leaks," said Tom balefully.

And there's more fun with prefixes, suffixes, and subtle word compounds:

  • "Yes, my lobotomy was successful," said Tom absent-mindedly. (absent, mind)
  • "I got this ballpoint pen from a Yugoslav friend," said Tom acerbically. (a, serb, bic)
  • "I had to fire my first mate when she got too heavy for the boat," said Tom excruciatingly. (ex, crew, she, ate)
  • "Oh goody! Another blackout!" said Tom delightedly.
  • "Boy, that sure took the wind out of my sails!" said Tom disgustedly.
  • "Let me read that telegraph again," said Tom remorsefully.
And then, if you want to get really tricky, start incorporating other languages:
  • "Yes, we sell worms," Tom verified. (ver is worm in French)
  • "Forward march! Eins! Zwei! Drei! Funf! Eins! Zwei! Drei! Funf!" Tom barked fearlessly. (fier, German for four and a homophone of "fear", is missing from his counting.)

Play with it on your own for a while. It's fun and will be sure to annoy those around you for hours on end. If you can't think of any on your own, here's a few more to get you started:

  • "I just adore camping," said Tom intensely.
  • "The pastrycook life is the life for me," said Tom piously.
  • "Help! I'm being suffocated by a python," said Tom coyly.
  • "I prefer an automatic transmission for my car," said Tom shiftlessly.
  • "I'll never drink so much Seagrams again," said Tom wryly.
  • "Someone removed all the twos from this deck," Tom deduced.
  • "Let us leave," said Tom crisply.
  • "I'm dying!" Tom croaked.
  • "I seem to be losing my marbles," said Tom scatalogically.
  • "I've been claiming unemployment benefit for years," said Tom dolefully.
  • "This speech just goes on and on and on and..." Tom said energizingly.
  • "AUUGGH! I've been SHOT in the CHEST!" Tom shouted wholeheartedly.
  • Excalibre humbly suggests: "Stay out of the kitchen while I'm baking," said Tom tartly.
  • and jt adds this hilarious bit: "My mother slashed her wrists," Tom mumbled.

"I'd like to thank the following little web pages," said Hotel shortsightedly.

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