Posts Tagged ‘word play’

for Six Word Saturday

© janet m. webb

for Six Word Saturday

A metaphor is a direct comparison, such as the second line of the poem, The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes: “The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.”  If he’d said “The moon was like a ghostly galleon”, it would have been a simile.

Metaphors are quite useful, but when they get mixed, things get a bit, well, mixed up!  Just take a look at these gems, courtesy of Anguished English.

The sacred cows have come home to roost with a vengeance.  (I hope they have a very sturdy perch and please do NOT stand underneath it!!)

The slowdown  is accelerating.

The Sword of Damocles is hanging over Pandora’s Box.

Let dead dogs sleep.

She was a diva of such immense talent that, after hearing her perform, there was seldom a dry seat in the house.   (I can’t really comment on that one.)

Let’s hope Steve Carleton gets his curve ball straightened out.  (Perhaps Yogi was catching for this one.)

It’s difficult living in a bowl of fish.  (Unless of course you’re a fish.)

That guy’s out to butter his own nest. (Slick!)

I’m sticking my neck out on a limb.  (Ouch!!)

He was a very astute politician with both ears glued to the ground.  (Ouch again!)

The banker’s pockets are bulging with the sweat of the honest working man. (Yuk!)

Richard Lederer (again in Anguished English) points out that even Ian Fleming mixed a cocktail of metaphors at least once (shaken, though, not stirred) when he wrote: “Bond’s knees, the Achilles heel of all skiers, were beginning to ache.”  So if you happen to mangle a metaphor or three (or would that make it a meta-four?), you’re in good company.

Three Dog Night may think that “One is the loneliest number”, but in this case, one is the funniest number.  We’re back with the 2013 Washington Post again, this time with their Style Invitational.  Here’s how it works.  And yes, once again I was laughing out loud!

The Washington Post’s Style Invitational asks readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

The winners were:


You’ve survived Monday, so let me reward you with some good laughs for Tuesday.  For that, we’re back to Richard Lederer’s Anguished English for examples of signs in other countries that are written in English.  However, their messages are more than a bit mixed or maybe muffed.  I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite.  Which is yours?

In a Bangkok dry cleaner’s:  Drop your trousers here for best results.


Mrs. Malaprop was a character in 1775 comedy by Richard Sheridan who misused words in a way that created unintentional humor.  From her, we get the word “malapropism”, a particularly enjoyable type of humor.


: the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase; especially : the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context

  • “Jesus healing those leopards” is an example of malapropism.

One of my favorite books of comedy, Richard Lederer’s Anguished English, has a number of examples, a few of which I’m sharing with you today.  You survived Monday; you deserve some good laughs!  And if you enjoy word play and, as Lederer says in his subtitle, “accidental assaults upon our language”, I urge you to get the book immediately!!  You won’t stop laughing for hours.  But beware.  It’s addictive!


“Surprise” is the theme of this week’s photo challenge.  As Jen mentioned in her example, I’ve often been surprised by what appears in a macro shot, especially if it’s taken with my phone in bright sunshine!  Little critters that I didn’t even notice look like sci-fi creatures when viewed on my laptop or iPad.

I like to be surprised by wit and word play is one of the things I most enjoy.  So you might imagine the surprised happiness the name of this shop gave me when I chanced to look across a Philadelphia street and see it.

© janet m. webb 2017


Have we got a bargain for you today!!  Anyone looking for a man at the best price needs to check out this sale.
It’s the first oddball for 2015.  Oh, and don’t forget to let me know what you find.


If you want some free fun, try misspelling words on purpose and see what spell check offers you as alternatives. In fact, if you just type some unusual (and not-so-unusual) words, you’ll be laughing as well. Foreign words are good, too. Of course, in the way of all things technological and otherwise, this will only occur while writing something, not when you merely want some entertainment. I guess when coming across words with funky, Spell Check alternatives, you could save them in a word humor file and click on them when you need some entertainment (not that I’ve done this, but it could be fun), because when you want a word that offers interesting, funny, and/or bizarre alternatives, you can be sure one won’t present itself!

If you don’t get quite close enough to your desired word, good luck. For instance, I just decided to misspell “khaki” as “kacki”. My choices are kaki (look that up on Wikipedia for diverse choices!), kicky, kick, kaka (not what you’d think), and knack. Since “kaki” is a word, good luck if you try that one first! Evidently, the “h” is vital to the spell check process. And in some sort of computer dictionary revolt, when I typed “khaki”, with a “c” for the second “k”, the computer automatically changed it, no matter what I did. Take that! Another win for the computer is that I can’t look up a word unless I’m online, but the computer can correct my words. I’m still a peon, despite my slowly increasing “mastery” of the internet and all things computer. Sad, but true.

I’m a grammar nazi (lower case, so as not to imply anything about actual Nazis). I not only admit it, I’m OK with it. It can drive me crazy, but I try very, very hard to confine any outward sign to a sideways glance with widened eyes to a fellow grammar nazi or a partial eye roll.

Anyone enjoying the absurdities of language will enjoy “Anguished English” or anything else by Richard Lederer. We received a copy as a gift years ago and I remember reading aloud from it to my husband as we drove back from Toronto and having tears rolling down my cheeks. Another time a friend and I were in a bookstore, sitting on the floor of one of the aisles, crying with laughter as I read aloud, while other patrons gave us wide berth and a variety of looks, ranging from “What’s up with that?” to “They let all sorts in here!” Good stuff! I particularly enjoy the chapters where he cobbles together a history of the world from grammatically and historically bizarre answers mined from student history tests and classes and also the signs in other countries in fractured English. Delicious.

However, being a grammar nazi can drive me crazy, such as coming across a book today where the intended “they’re” was rendered as “there”. Another recent literary faux pas was in a paragraph where the author talked about a moat, but each time it was spelled “mote”. I couldn’t help myself. I emailed the author and after telling her how much I enjoyed her books, I mentioned that somehow this mistake had crept in and that she might get a better response from the publisher than I. I hope she did as I didn’t get one from her.

Once someone online referred to her “baited” breath, rather disgusting if you were to be around it. I emailed her privately and she was appreciative. But if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “lie” and “lay” misused or that, for example, “a gift was given to him and I” (or something similar) or at the other end of things, “Henry and me went to the store”, I’d be writing this from my villa in Provence overlooking the Mediterranean. Just remember that if you can say “I/me” by itself, you can and should say “She and I/me”. Simple, really.

Then there are the “in” abbreviations or “cute” ways of putting things, although I guess they aren’t, strictly speaking, grammar. Perhaps they would be considered slang, in the tradition of “ain’t.”. For instance, “LOL” is getting old and since I don’t text, I don’t labor under the “less letters = easier” burden. I would never call my husband my “hubster” and not just so he wouldn’t roll his eyes, and “OMG” is unlikely to ever appear in a serious context in my writing…if it can appear in any sort of serious context. For some unknown reason, my current least favorite is this, but… I. Really. Don’t. Know. Why. I will admit to a weakness for expressing incredulity by saying “Really”? And I also admit I can never remember if it should by “Really”? or “Really?” Even a grammar nazi has her moments.