Spoonerism clues use play on words in which the initial sounds or syllables of words are switched.
|Such as: |
EASE MY TEARS/TEASE MY EARS
LIGHT FIRE/FIGHT LIAR
The term 'spoonerism' comes from Reverend W.A. Spooner (1844-1930), an Oxford don, who is reputed to have made these linguistic slips frequently. In cryptic clues, spoonerisms are popular for their humorous effect.
Guardian 24270: Sitting comfortably? Here, perhaps, is Spooner's popular but second-rate tune (4,5)
popular but second-rate tune = CHEESY AIR
Spooner's indicates that CHEESY AIR is a Spoonerism of the expected answer. Switch the initial sounds and you get the solution, EASY CHAIR.
Spoonerism Clue Characteristics
- Very easy to identify because of its giveaway indicator - the clue will nearly always has the word 'Spooner' in it. It is also simple to deconstruct – whatever follows "Spooner's" or immediately precedes ", as Spooner would say", is a spoonerism of the solution.
- Spoonerism clues are used sparingly. Of the popular daily crosswords, Guardian seems to carry them the most (once a month or so). They are rare in the crosswords published in India. This one is from ET in '07:
ET 3396: Spooner's criminal with nurse finding hiding places (4,3,6) NOOK AND CRANNY [Spoonerism of CROOK AND NANNY]
- In advanced cryptics, spoonerisms may be more complex with transpose not limited to initial sound. There could be vocalic switches [e.g. BUNTING/BIN TONGUE or UNHITCH/IN HUTCH], and changes of punctuation.
Try solving these clues from the Guardian archives:
Spooner's metal building an irritating thing? (4,5)
Spooner's stuff, sailor's vehicle (7)
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