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Tom Swift was the "boy genius" hero in a popular series of juvenile adventure novels first packaged by Edward Stratemeyer (1862–1930) between 1910 and 1941, and continued in several later series. He …

Tom Swift was the "boy genius" hero in a popular series of juvenile adventure novels first packaged by Edward Stratemeyer (1862–1930) between 1910 and 1941, and continued in several later series. He rarely passed a remark without a qualifying adverb. A popular form of wordplay parodies Tom's speech by using adverbs to pun on something a speaker has just said. This usage has become known as a Tom Swifty.

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  • 1. Limericks on Wordplay: Tom Swifties
    Classic Tom Swifties involve quips in which Tom uses adverbs or adverbial phrases both literally and as puns. More inclusive definitions use other speakers or consider punning verbs, other verb modifiers or punning words as Swifties.
  • 2. Axiomatic:
    Said Queen Katherine, "My love life erraticMeans I'm heading for downfall emphatic;Hope at nine of the clock,When my head's on the block,My oblivion's axiomatic."
    Katherine Howard was the fifth wife of Henry VIII, but married bliss was short-lived when, accused of having taken several lovers, the young girl met a swift end at the executioner's block.
  • 3. Conviction:
    "I'm convinced that your alibi's fiction.You've been caught in the wrong jurisdiction.Contradictory factsShow your criminal acts.Twenty years!" cried the judge,
    with conviction.
  • 4. Caustically:
    Said the chem. prof, "When working with lye,Wear your gloves, in case things go awry.""Why didn't you tell meBefore it befell me!"Tom caustically said in reply.
  • 5. Chernobyl:
    "A nuclear accident sparkedMy concern, so I quickly embarkedOn a dangerous trekTo the hot zone to checkOn the victims," Cher nobly remarked.
    This limerick is a fanciful set-up for a Tom Swifty. Though involved in humanitarian causes, American actress and singer Cherdidn't go in 1986 to Chernobyl, a town in the Ukraine now famed for being the site of the world's worst nuclear power plant accident.
  • 6. Be at one’s best, at one’s best, best:
    The peeping Tom loved her physique,Climbed her tree to spy five days a week."But on weekends I restSo I'll be at my best:I like to perform at my peek."
  • 7. Contritely:
    "I work on our manuscript nightly,But the text has increased only slightly.I expect we'll be late,But regretfully stateI have writer's block," Tom said contritely.
  • 8. Conclusively:
    Tom's relationship started amusively,But too soon, it developed abusively."If you can't be a friend,I insist it must end,"Finished Tom to his partner, conclusively.
  • 9. Balefully:
    "There's a hole in the boat, maybe two.So I'm sorry to say this sail's through.This boat is now leaking."Tom, balefully speaking,Forebodingly stared at his crew.
  • 10. Acidly:
    "Toxic rainfall's a major concernWhich some people continue to spurnOr accept far too placidly,"Tom spewed out acidly."When will we wake up and learn?"
  • 11. Abstractly:
    Some art thieves once thought themselves smart,Making Klee's and Picasso's depart,So matter-of-factly.Critiqued Tom, abstractly,"But who'd want to steal modern art?"
  • 12. Bellow:
    Day faded and on came the night.The campfire kindling burned bright.The embers all yellowedAs Tom loudly bellowed,"I must keep this fire alight!"
  • 13. Crabbily:
    "Let's drop nets with a keen expectationOf finding our favorite crustacean,"Young Tim, uttered gabbily.Old Tom muttered, crabbily,"And hope that our net's not frustration."
  • 14. Bitterly:
    Poor Tom was about to be fedTo the lions, and soon he'd be dead.His attackers he faced:"I am sure I will tasteReally awful!" he bitterly said.
  • 15. Crossbreeding:
    "Labraboxers are fatter than hogs!Cockerspoodles have faces like frogs!Let's all stop nature-puttering,"Tom's ruefully muttering."Crossbreeding has gone to the dogs!"
  • 16. Abiotically:
    As he moon-walks about astronautically,"There's no life here," says Tom abiotically.Then he tries going suit less,And, fruitless and bootless,His lunacy ends idiotically.
  • 17. Deadpan:
    "Are you sure that this thing is a bedpan?I have used it all day as a bread pan!'This fresh bread really rocks!'Said the Greek god of flocksWhen he ate some," said Tom, in full deadpan.
    And of course you know who the ancient Greek god of flocks, shepherds, and rustic music was, don't you? (Hint: this is a Tom Swifty.)
  • 18. Bootylicious:
    The project seemed very ambitious:Rate beauty of bare-butted dishes.Tom admits, "I'm confessingSome trouble assessing;They all look so darn bootylicious."
  • 19. …just a plain limerick
    for my friends…
    People like to be cordially treated:To be welcomed and heartily greeted;To be asked with a "please";To be blessed when they sneeze;To be offered a chair to be seated.
  • 20. Tom Swift was the "boy genius" hero in a popular series of juvenile adventure novels first packaged by Edward Stratemeyer (1862–1930) between 1910 and 1941, and continued in several later series. He rarely passed a remark without a qualifying adverb. A popular form of wordplay parodies Tom's speech by using adverbs to pun on something a speaker has just said. This usage has become known as a Tom Swifty.
    Trinity
    18.8.09