or other sounds of words, usually by accident, as in
"a blushing crow" for "a crushing blow"
[1895–1900; after W. A. Spooner (1844–1930),
English clergyman noted for such slips].
As indicated in the definition, this eponym is named after William Archibald Spooner, who is caricatured above in an 1898 Vanity Fair illustration. Spooner was dean of New College, Oxford, where he studied and stayed for 60 years. The quintessential absent-minded professor became known for muddling his words, but today would probably be diagnosed with dyspraxia. He disliked his reputation and said to an audience assembled to hear him speak, "You haven't come for my lecture, you just want to hear one of those...things." Of all "those things" he was said to have uttered, only 2 are more or less substantiated as his words: "The weight of rages will press hard upon the employer" and "Kinkering congs their titles take." Other Spoonerisms are apocryphal, but hilarious all the same:
- "The Lord is a shoving leopard."
- "It is kisstomary to cuss the bride."
- "Can I sew you to another sheet?"
- "We'll have the hags flung out."
- "Is the bean dizzy?"
"You have hissed all my mystery lectures, and were caught fighting a liar in the quad. Having tasted 2 worms, you will leave by the next town drain."*One thing is not disputed, and that is that Rev. Spooner was, oddly enough, an albino.
*Transposed from "You have missed all my history lectures, and were caught lighting a fire in the quad. Having wasted 2 terms, you will leave by the next down train."