Games People Play: Wordplay Round Up

13 May

My favorite Tom Swift cover art, for obvious reasons.

Games People Play is a series where I attempt to make the world a better place by encouraging more game playing.

Here are some word games that I’ve discovered recently. The first two were brought to my attention by my friend Elise, who always chooses just the right words, whether she’s talking about website usability (her job) or Bruce Willis movies (sometimes seems like her job). The third is courtesy of the Internets.


A spoonerism is an inversion of corresponding sounds, such as “falls through the cracks / crawls through the fax” or “”Sarah Palin / parasailin’.”

Game-ify it! Turn it into a guessing game by providing clues, such as “A group of falsehoods and a shortage of baked goods” (answer: pack of lies / lack of pies) or perhaps “Video game siblings and neighborhood madres” (answer: Mario Brothers / barrio mothers) [that one is an Elise original].

Tom Swifty (or Tom Swiftly, depending on which page of the internet you’re viewing)

A Tom Swifty is made up of a quote and an attribution that are linked by a pun. Here are some choice examples:

  • “That’s the last time I’ll stick my arm in a lion’s mouth,” the lion-tamer said off-handedly.
  • “I will curve the midterm grades,” Tom remarked normally.
  • “Let’s practice our synchronized swimming,” they said together. [This one is by my co-worker, Kim!]
  • “Nnnn,” Tom murmured forensically.
  • “I dropped my toothpaste,” said Tom, crestfallen.
  • “I’ve lost my job,” said Tom redundantly.
  • “I’d love a pineapple,” Tom said dolefully.
  • “A word that contains all six vowels? And I suppose you want those vowels to appear in alphabetical order?” asked Tom facetiously.

Game-ify it! Make it competitive by providing a quote, and seeing which of your friends can come up with the most creative attribution.

p.s. “By the way, the name Tom Swifty comes from the series of Tom Swift books about a young inventor,” Hannah added originally. is a fun site with a few different daily competitive word games. My favorite is the Analogies game, where an analogy is set up and players compete to come up with the best conclusion (as voted on by everyone). Here are some recent winners (in each of these examples, the first part was provided, and the second part was the winning entry):

  • He’s like a vitamin: if the food is good, he’ll be there.
  • She’s like geometry: she was being difficult, so I dropped the subject.
  • He’s like a sin: I’ll be damned if I let him back into my life.
  • He’s like a speedometer: the most frequently consulted member of the panel.
  • He’s like hiccups: everyone gives me advice on how to get rid of him.
  • He’s like a v-neck sweater: I thought he was perfect until I found the pills.

Clever, eh?


2 Responses to “Games People Play: Wordplay Round Up”

  1. Elise May 16, 2011 at 2:32 am #

    Thanks for the shout-outs! Also, nice new spoonerisms!

  2. julia May 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    “I think Hannah will like this video of the space shuttle,” she said, starry-eyed.

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