Words are powerful.
They can carry big and serious ideas, communicated by icons such as Martin Luther King Jr, Malala Yousafzai or Winston Churchill.
But they can also carry a healthy dose of well-considered silliness. Think Amy Schumer, Spike Milligan or Eric Morecambe.
I’ve been reading a lot about the English language and humour recently:
- ‘English Is Not Easy – A Graphic Guide to the Language’ by Luci Gutierrez
- ‘English Humour for Beginners’ by George Mikes
- ‘Mangled English’ by Gervase Phinn
- ‘i before e (except after c) – old-school ways to remember stuff’ by Judy Parkinson
And it’s got me thinking about my favourite examples of wordplay…
Epic ways of saying someone is an idiot
Keep some of these handy for your next passive aggressive or if needs be just aggressive discussion.
“One sausage short of a mixed grill”
“The hamster’s dead but the wheel is still turning”
“One sandwich short of a picnic”
“The lift doesn’t go to the top floor”
“One word short of a sentence”
Let me know how these go down at the next family barbecue or round the water cooler at work.
Book titles that actually exist
I can’t decide which of these is my favourite, but it’s between “nude mice” and “Exhibition Poultry”.
“The Romance of Leprosy”
“Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice”
“Erections on Allotments”
“The Art of Faking Exhibition Poultry”
“Cooking with Poo”
“Handbook for the Limbless”
Definitely some titles to add to your read-on-the-tube-to-make-Londoners-uncomfortable list.
Real-life published headlines
I’d pay a lot of money to know which of these were deliberate and which were only accidentally amusing.
“Headmistress Unveils Bust”“Spider Found in Toilet. Woman Relieved”“Leopard Spotted In Park”“Man At Death’s Door-Doctors Pull Him Through”
If none of these examples of outstanding wordplay made you laugh then you’re probably one word short of a sentence.