Does your brain sometimes go faster than your mouth? If you’re like most kids, that definitely happens from time to time. Your brain races along at light speed, but your lips and tongue struggle to keep up. When that happens, funny things often follow.

Slips of the tongue — when you accidentally switch consonants, vowels or sounds in words — are called Spoonerisms. They’re named after Revered William Archibald Spooner, who was Warden of New College in Oxford, England. Poor Reverend Spooner was known for constantly mixing up his words!

Spoonerisms are particularly funny when the mixed-up versions still make sense. Sometimes slips of the tongue make no sense at all. At other times, though, what comes out is a real word or phrase — it’s just not the one you intended!

Because of how funny the results of these errors in speech can be, people sometimes use them on purpose as a play on words. When you read some of the examples below, you’ll see what we mean!

Here are some examples of Spoonerisms that are commonly attributed to Revered Spooner, although it should be noted that he may not be responsible for all of these:

  • “Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?” (Is it customary to kiss the bride?)
  • “The Lord is a shoving leopard.” (The Lord is a loving shepherd.)
  • “A blushing crow.” (A crushing blow.)
  • “A well-boiled icicle” (A well-oiled bicycle.)
  • “Is the bean dizzy?” (Is the Dean busy?)
  • “Someone is occupewing my pie. Please sew me to another sheet.” (Someone is occupying my pew. Please show me to another seat.)

Today, Spoonerism is used to refer to any slip of the tongue in which the sounds of words are mixed up. It doesn’t have to be a letter-for-letter mix-up, and it doesn’t have to be just the beginning sounds of the words. Any funny speech slip-up is likely to be dubbed a Spoonerism.

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    • WOHOO, we LOVE your excitement at the beginning of the week, Laserdudle! We Wonder if you have any spoonerisms of your own to share? We think it’s fun to hear what our Wonder Friends might say! We hope you have a SUPER day at school, Wonder Friend! :)

    • What a SUPER guess from our Wonder Friends in Ms. Bayko’s class today! We think you’ve hit a home run with your guess! Have a great day at school!! :)

  1. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We thought today’s wonder was interesting, we’ve never heard of spoonerisms before.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about a baseball game.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class! We sure are glad you’ve joined us today to Wonder about tongue-twisting spoonerisms! We hope you have fun thinking of different spoonerisms you may have said in the past!

      We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be… we Wonder if anyone in your classroom has been watching the games leading up to the World Series?! :) Super work, Wonder Friends! :)

  2. I would have loved a better reading (and the Flash video is really poor) showing how silly Sppoonerisms can be! These are so much fun and writing a short story with the children is a great way to lighten the class room on a gloomy day!

    • Hi there, HunttMama, we are glad you’ve visited Wonderopolis today! Thanks for sharing your comments, we really appreciate your input! We’re sorry to hear that the video quality wasn’t too great for you, but we are glad that spoonerisms have made it into your classroom! We support creativity and writing of all kinds here at Wonderopolis! Have a SUPER day, HunttMama! :)

  3. We predicted that spoonerisms were a disease, but gladly we learned that spoonerisms are when our brain works faster than our mouth and tongue. We know we have all been victims of using spoonerisms.

    We predict that tomorrow’s wonder is about the first World Series in baseball.

    • We think that your guess about spoonerisms was a great one, Mrs. Karr’s class! There are a lot of different names for illnesses, and sometimes they sound alike! But we’re glad that our Wonder Friends learned that spoonerisms are directly related to words!

      We think the third base coach is waving you in to home plate with your guess tomorrow! :)

    • We LOVE spoonerisms, Bryleigh, and we’re glad you do, too! We bet each of us has had a moment or two when we have mixed up our words or meanings– the brain is a powerful thing! We hope you had a great time WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Great question, David B! We love to watch the video and read the article on each day’s newest Wonder of the Day®! It’s fun to learn something new at Wonderopolis– we Wonder if you learned any new words or phrases from today’s Wonder? Thanks for commenting, Wonder Friend David B! :)

    • Isn’t it amazing what the human brain can accomplish, Gage? We’re glad that you learned something new and cool today at Wonderopolis! We’re glad you’re here, Wonder Friend! :)

    • WOHOO, we’re so excited that you learned something NEW with us today, Lauren! Nice work! We are happy that you’ve joined the fun today at Wonderopolis– we hope to see you again soon! :)

    • Oh no, we hope you’re not too tired from WONDERing, David B! We are sorry to hear that today’s video wasn’t one of your favorites, but we appreciate your comment today! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis– we hope to see you again soon! :)

    • We’re glad you found spoonerisms interesting, Barbie Doll! We think it’s fun to imagine how quickly our brain works, but sometimes our mouth takes a little bit to catch up! :)

    • We Wonder if you ever remember mixing up your words because your brain was working SO fast, Ashley?! :) All of our Friends at Wonderopolis can remember a time when our tongues have been tied! We hope you had fun WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Great example, Moira! It’s difficult to complete that phrase, especially when you speed up your speech! Thanks for sharing your comment today, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Nathan! We are glad you’re WONDERing with us today! We’ve included an excerpt from today’s Wonder of the Day® for you to check out… it might have the answer to your Wonder!

      “Slips of the tongue — when you accidentally switch consonants, vowels or sounds in words — are called Spoonerisms. They’re named after Revered William Archibald Spooner, who was Warden of New College in Oxford, England. Poor Reverend Spooner was known for constantly mixing up his words!”

      Did you find the answer? :)

    • Hi there, Jenna, we’re glad you know the proper name for those occasional “slips of the tongue”! We all have moments when we slip up our speech, just like Reverend Spooner did on occasion! We think it’s fun to smile and laugh about it, too– we’re glad you shared your comment today! :)

    • Great guess, Moira! We think you’ve hit this one out of the ballpark! We can’t wait to Wonder with you again tomorrow! See you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Hehee, we LOVE your enthusiasm today, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Smith’s class! Yank tou for your CUPER somment today! We hope you have a WUPER SONDERful day, Fonder Wriends! :)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We loved today’s video, it was really funny.

    We think tomorrow will be about baseball, perhaps even the first world series.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th graders

    • Wohoo, our Wonder Friends from Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th grade class have joined us on this marvelous Monday! :)

      We’re glad you learned about Spoonderisms with us today– today’s Wonder made us smile! Also, thank you for sharing your guess about tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®… we think you’re in the right ballpark! :)

  5. Yes!!! We have been watching our baseball. We are die hard Tigers fans here in metro Detroit.
    Go Tigers!

    • WOHOO, we LOVE to cheer on our favorite sports teams– especially as they play for the World Series (or other championship) title! We hope you have a great time rooting for those Tigers! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your SUPER guess, Wonder Friend Gronkmanpecci! We hope you’ll visit again tomorrow to find out what the next Wonder will be! :)

    • YIPEE, we’re oh-so-glad you liked today’s wordy Wonder, Keenpup! We hope you have a Wuper Sonderful day! :) (Oops, we meant Super Wonderful!) :)

    • That’s great news, Dylan, thanks for sharing your WONDERful comment today! We hope you’ll visit tomorrow… we think you’ve got a home run of a guess! :)

  6. We think spoonerisms are funny. We noticed our teacher has spoken a few spoonerisms today. It made us laugh.

    We are excited about tomorrow’s Wonder because we think its going to be about baseball. We are excited about baseball because our hometown team, the Detroit Tigers, are going to the World Series! GO TIGERS! We think they’re going to win :-)

    • We’re glad we could make our Wonder Friends, The Third Grade All-Stars, SMILE! :) All of our Wonder Friends here at Wonderopolis remember letting a Spoonerism slip from time to time! :)

      We bet you and your class are jumping for joy as you wait to find out who the Tigers will be playing for the World Series title!! We hope your Tigers do gggrreeeeaaatttt! :)

    • Super question, Dylan! We Wonder if you can answer that Wonder by reading the excerpt from today’s Wonder:

      “Slips of the tongue — when you accidentally switch consonants, vowels or sounds in words — are called Spoonerisms. They’re named after Revered William Archibald Spooner, who was Warden of New College in Oxford, England. Poor Reverend Spooner was known for constantly mixing up his words!”

      We hope you have a great day! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear that you enjoyed today’s Wonder, Hannah! You’re making us smile! :)

      You have a super guess for tomorrow’s sporty Wonder– thanks for sharing your WONDERful comment! See you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Hi there, Dylan, we’re sorry to hear that the video wasn’t one of your favorites. We wanted to hear and read Spoonerisms for ourselves! We sure are glad you are here, WONDERing, with us today! :)

    • Great guess, Wonder Friend M! We are sorry to hear that baseball isn’t one of your favorite sports, but we hope you’ll come back to visit us soon for lots of fun WONDERing! :)

  7. When I read the title of this article I was sure it was going to involve spoons but as a matter of fact it didn’t. Now that I have read this article I know that spoonerisms are a synonym to tongue tied. Oh well I guess I was wrong. Thank you for the great article. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about baseball. :)

    • You made a great connection to today’s Wonder, Jacob L.! The term “Spoonerism” makes you think that “spoon” would be related! Great job learning new vocabulary and referencing what a synonym is! We are very proud of you, Jacob L., and we think you’ve hit a homerun with your guess, too! :)

  8. I think that this spoonersim is pretty bad for liitle kids because they may grow up talking to their bosses and family so people won’t understand from what they are saying to other people. Although maybe they can take classes and get help from family, friends, teachers, and professionals.

    • Hi there, Andreyanna! We are so excited that you shared your comment about today’s Wonder! We think that while some people have severe speech issues, most of us let a Spoonerism slip from time to time. However, you’re correct– it’s important for those who require more help with communication to work with parents, friends and teachers! We are glad that you’re doing some SUPER WONDERing of your own today! :)

    • That’s a great question, Mark C! Sometimes we have tongue-twisters or slips of the tongue that cause us to say something we didn’t intend. It’s important to remember that we all make mistakes, but using clean language is a sign of respect for yourself and others around you. We think you have done a SUPER job of WONDERing today– nice work! :)

  9. Hey Wonderopolis! I’m back. I use spoonerisms a lot. Not on purpose though. When I do it, I go; lubalsbadfkhidn, when I mess up. Haha. I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Baseball.

    • Hehee, thanks for making us smile, Gina M.! We like that you say “lubalsbadfkhidn” when you get tongue-tied… we do the same thing! :)

      It’s okay if you have a slip of the tongue once in a while– it means that your brain is moving quicker than your mouth can! :)

  10. WHY IS EVERYBODY TALKING ABOUT A RABBIT!!!!!!!????!? THIS ARTICLE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH A RABBIT AT ALL!!!!!!!!!

    • We’re sorry to confuse you, Wonder Friend W! We hope you enjoyed today’s Wonder. If you take a look at the video today, you’ll hear the narrator talk about a bunny rabbit, but she calls is a runny babbit! We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

    • What a great guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, Daijsha G! We have Wonder Friends who attend school at home, at a school, or with a tutor! There are LOTS of ways to learn, Wonder and have fun! :)

  11. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about students having no homework, class work, more school days off and more watching movies.

    • Hi there, Iasia, we like your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder. Did you learn anything about Spoonerisms of slips of the tongue today? :)

  12. When I got on this website I had no clue what spoonerisms were now I do now, for tomorrow’s wonder it’s going to about and when it said the old ball game I knew what is was going to be about the Great American sport Baseball and I’m a HUGE Chicago white sox fan!!!

    • We sure are glad you learned something new with us, Wonder Friend R! We think it’s fun to Wonder and guess what tomorrow will bring! We bet you’re going to enjoy the next Wonder… especially since you’re a big White Sox fan! We are sorry to hear they are not competing for the World Series title this year, like they did in 2005! We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment with us, Wonder Friend MD! We hope you have a few Spoonerisms of your own to share! :)

      We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be… we think you have a homerun of a guess! :)

  13. We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about baseball. Like maybe even old timer baseball. (For example, Babe Ruth’s baseball era.)

    Mrs. Ski thinks this is a Cracker Jack of a Wonder at that it will give our imaginations quite a streeeeeeeetch.

    • SUPER guess from our Wonderful friends in Mrs. Ski’s PM class! We think you hit this one “out of the park” with your guess! We like to hear that you have been WONDERing and streeeeetching your AWESOME imaginations… just like you do in the 7th inning of a baseball game! Have a marvelous Monday! :)

  14. I sometimes do spoonerisms I don’t know how I’m a motor mouth. I can’t believe my brain is faster than my motor mouth.

    • Isn’t it amazing to WONDER about, Dylan H? It’s pretty cool to imagine how quick the brain can move– sometimes our mouth gets tongue tied! :)

    • We’re glad you liked today’s Wonder, Emily! We all have slips of the tongue once in a while! We think you’re right on track with tomorrow’s Wonder… we hope you will visit us again!

      We Wonder what “adjust your chair day” is?! It sounds pretty neat! :)

  15. Spoonerisms are awesome and very funny. I’ve said them sometimes! I know what it feels like to have my brain go faster than I can talk. It feels pretty funny and embarrassing at the same time.
    Jack DW

    • We’re glad you laughed while WONDERing with us today! We all have moments where our brains are moving faster than our mouths can! :) Thanks for sharing your comment today, Jack! :)

    • Woohoo, we are excited that you shared your guess with us, Wonder Friend W! We think you hit this one out of the ballpark! :)

    • WOHOO, we LOVE learning new terms like Spoonerism! We’re glad you can put a name to a slip of the tongue now, Patrick R! :)

  16. Sorry for spelling errors I have one I said to my mum accidentally today.

    Shoe tie was the mistake and the thing I was suppose to say was “to shy”

    I didn’t realise I had spoonerisms they are really funny to work out and some very weird mistakes. You’re awesome wonderopolis.

    • Hi there, Helen, we’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing about Spoonerisms with us! We think it happens to a lot of us– our brains work faster than our mouths do sometimes! We hope you have a SUPER day filled with fun! :)

  17. I use spoonerisms ALL the time haha like sally sells sea shells by the sea shore and what I say sally sells shea shells by the shea shore!

  18. We say thilly sings (Sorry, silly things) all the time. Some of the spoonerisms you came up with are feally runny (Sorry again, really funny).

    • He he, you’ve got us laughing, Wonder Friends! We’re huper sappy (oops, super happy!) that you enjoyed our wordy Wonder, Emmalyn and Maggie! Thanks for visiting us! We hope to see you soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What are Spoonerisms?
  • Who was Reverend Spooner?
  • Can you make up your own Spoonerism?

Wonder Gallery

child covering mouth_shutterstock_72353380Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Spoonerisms are fun, aren’t they? These slips of the tongue (or tips of the slung!) can be hilarious. Sometimes they happen so quickly that you don’t even realize it until later. Can you figure out what these Spoonerisms were supposed to say?

  • tease my ears
  • a lack of pies
  • it’s roaring with pain
  • wave the sails
  • chipping the flannel
  • at the lead of spite
  • hiss and leer
  • shake a tower

If you can’t figure one of them out, here are the answers:

  • ease my tears
  • a pack of lies
  • it’s pouring with rain
  • save the whales
  • flipping the channel
  • at the speed of light
  • listen here
  • take a shower

Can you make up your own Spoonerisms? Feel free to post some to Facebook to share with your Wonder Friends! We can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Still Wondering

Visit our friends at EDSITEment and learn more about Play with Words: Rhyme & Verse.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will take you out to the old ball game!

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