15 Math Spoonerisms

July 24, 2012 at 7:15 am Leave a comment

When we walked into the mall, there was a display for kitchenware. The signature piece in the collection was a copper wok. My friend Justin looked at it and turned to me. “That’s a great spoonerism,” he said.

Copper Wok

That was many years ago. At the time, I didn’t know what a spoonerism was, so the humor (as it were) was lost on me. But I learned that a spoonerism is a play on words in which corresponding sounds are switched, and I now consider myself an above average spoonerist.

A spoonerism of cube root, for example, is cute rube, which might refer to an attractive country bumpkin.

(Though truth be known, that is actually a forkerism, since the ending sounds have been interchanged. Douglas Hofstadter coined the terms kniferism and forkerism to refer to the exchange of the middle and ending sounds of words. He reserved spoonerism for the exchange of the beginning sounds).

And a fenerating junction is an intersection where you can get a loan.

The following image shows sailor tearies

Sailor Tearies

…which might be what comes out of a seaman’s ducts when he deals with an infinite sequence.

And a tractor fee is what you’d pay for a piece of farm equipment.

Tractor Fee

Here are eleven others:

Rare Squoot — Given that no one has actually ever seen a squoot, they must be rare, indeed.

Trite Wry Angle — A sharp-tongued intersection of two lines whose comments are trivial.

Kine Serve — Cows that wait tables. (See Holy Cow!)

Rational Roots — Well, duh.

Spinnier Lace — Secret desire of every lingerie lovin’ lady.

Hone Kite — To perfect a wind-flying instrument.

Saw of Lines — “Read between the lines,” et al.

Faulty Marryable — Elizabeth Taylor, Larry King, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, to name a few.

Formal Nectar — A drink to be drunk when dressed like a skunk.

Meriadoc Potion — A concoction of Frodo’s best friend.

Lewd Skeins — Naked fowl.

Spoonerisms have had their place in pop culture. The Kenny Everett Television Show featured a character with the spooneristic name Cupid Stunt. As the story goes, the character was originally named Mary Hinge, but BBC vetoed the name for fear that announcers would mistakenly pronounce the spoonerism; rather bizarrely, they allowed Cupid Stunt despite the same risk.

Finally, this post started with a mention of a wok, so here’s a line from the song “High School Party” by Bo Burnham:

Let’s rob a Chinese restaurant or stroll around the block —
Either way, girl, we’re taking a wok.

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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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