Tom Swifties

Tom Swift was the creation of the American author Edward L. Stratemeyer (1862-1930). Stratemeyer, who was also the creator of the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, first used the name Tom Swift for the title character in Shorthand Tom; or, the exploits of a young reporter, serialised in 1894. 16 years later he re-used the name for a new character, an ingenious youth whose amazing scientific inventions and discoveries carried him to many weird and wonderful places. The Tom Swift adventure series, which was published under the pseudonym Victor Appleton, began in 1910 and continued until 1935. Stratemeyer only supplied the characters and the (repetitive) plots for his books; he had a syndicate of some 20 hack writers to do the actual writing, and the actual chief writer of the Tom Swift books was Howard Roger Garis (1873-1962). After Stratemeyer's death, the syndicate was taken over by his daughter, Harriet S. Adams, who in 1954 started the Tom Swift, Jr series under the pseudonym Victor Appleton II.

In the books, a certain type of narrative mannerism was employed where Tom never merely 'said' anything; he asserted, asseverated, averred, chuckled, declared, ejaculated, expostulated, grinned (plainly or mischievously), groaned, quipped or smiled. Over time, a person or persons unknown decided to satirise the mannerism by using puns, and the Tom Swiftie was born. A Tom Swiftie is a play on words that follows an unvarying pattern and relies for its humour on a punning relationship between the way an adverb describes a speaker (usually Tom himself) and at the same time refers significantly to the import of the speaker's statement as in "I've lost my crutches," said Tom lamely, where the word lamely has the double meaning of a poor excuse and the difficulty Tom experiences in walking.


"I'm wearing my wedding ring," said Tom with abandon.
"I'm concerned about the number of people not attending," said Tom absentmindedly.
"Who would want to steal modern art?" asked Tom abstractedly.
"Now I can chop down that tree," said Tom with a heavy accent.
"Let's all play an A, a C sharp, and an E," cried Tom's band with one accord.
"Who is married to the queen?" Tom asked achingly.
"There's room for one more," Tom admitted.
"They're not answering - we'd better try the knocker," said Tom adoringly.
"I'll eat till I burst," Tom agreed.
"There's no need for silence," Tom allowed.
"What's the capital of North Vietnam?" Tom asked annoyingly.
"My investments are worth more every day," said Tom appreciatively.
"I'll take that," said Tom appropriately.
"You can't have this and eat it too," said Tom archaically.
"Some day I will be in charge of MI5," said young Tom aspiringly.
"Cobblers!" said Tom at last.


"Give me a haircut," Tom said barbarously.
"That stinging insect is approaching me," said Tom becomingly.
"Wow!" barked Tom, with a bow.
"I'm losing my hair," Tom bawled.
"I never seem to be on time," Tom said belatedly.
"I wonder why the hive's still empty," said Tom belatedly.
"I must keep this fire burning," Tom bellowed.
"I'll never sleep on the railway tracks again!" Tom said, beside himself.
"I've only enough carpet for the hall and landing," said Tom with a blank stare.
"This wind is awful!" blustered Tom.
"I still haven't struck oil," said Tom boringly.
"This is mutiny!" said Tom bountifully.
"I'm suffused with a glowing aura," Tom said brilliantly.


"I'm a great opera singer," said Tom, being callous.
"I've been to a film festival in the South of France," said Tom cannily.
"Don't add too much water," said Tom with great concentration.
"I'm mentioned in this book," said Tom contentedly.
"Europe needs more self-restraint," said Tom continently.
"I'd like to be a Chinese labourer," said Tom coolly.
"I'm dying," Tom croaked.
"I feel like a big black bird," Tom crowed.
"The situation is grave," said Tom cryptically.


"The Greek woodland deity is no more," Tom said with a deadpan expression.
"Stop your snivelling,"Tom decried.
"Someone removed all the twos from this pack of cards," Tom deduced.
"Those ants will never get in here," Tom said defiantly.
"I can no longer hear anything," said Tom deftly.
"Power cuts are such fun," said Tom, delighted.
"Don't let me drown in Egypt!" pleaded Tom, deep in denial.
"I was removed from office," said Tom disappointedly.
"I want this statue to look like the Venus de Milo," said Tom disarmingly.
"I like listening to records at night," said Tom disconsolately.
"My tongue feels numb," Tom said distastefully.
"It's made the grass wet," said Tom after due consideration.
"Here's someone who can't speak!" exclaimed Tom dumbfoundedly.


"What's in the middle of an egg?" Tom asked eccentrically.
"I had no luck at all at the races," Tom endorsed.
"Let's get married," said Tom engagingly.
"I got in through the window after opening it with this crowbar,"said Tom enterprisingly.
"Time flies," said Tom entomochronometrically.
"What a charming doorway!" said Tom, entranced.
"I wouldn't marry you if you were the only woman on earth," said Tom evenly.
"I used to be a paratrooper," Tom explained.
"I don't want you delivering my mail any more - it never arrives on time," Tom expostulated.
"I've been on a diet," Tom expounded.
"Elvis is dead," said Tom expressly.


"I've forgotten the German word for 'four'," Tom said fearlessly.
"Get the stick, Rover!" Tom called fetchingly.
"This steamroller really works," said Tom flatteringly.
"I've joined the navy," Tom said fleetingly.
"I'm about to hit the golf ball," Tom forewarned.
"Ignore the first three turnings," said Tom forthrightly.
"I have a split personality," said Tom, being frank.
"Is your name Frank Lee?" Tom asked frankly.
"I don't think I'll ever be able to play the guitar," Tom fretted.
"We have no bananas," Tom said fruitlessly.


"I come from a Humberside port," said Tom ghoulishly.
"I was absolutely vitrified," said Tom with a glazed look.
"For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful," said Tom gracefully
"Would anyone like some Parmesan?" asked Tom gratingly.
"My shins are well protected," Tom grieved.
"Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess," Tom began grimly.
"This game is foul," Tom groused.
"I'm three feet taller than I was yesterday," said Tom gruesomely, up the yard.


"I've had my left and right ventricles removed," Tom said, half-heartedly.
"I only have diamonds, clubs and spades," said Tom heartlessly.
"It's my servant's night off," said Tom helplessly.
"I was the first to climb Mount Everest," said Tom hilariously.
"Nay, nay, and again I say nay," Tom said hoarsely.
"Have a ride in my new ambulance," said Tom hospitably.
"The surgeon had to remove a bone from my arm," said Tom humourlessly.
"That's an ugly hippopotamus!" said Tom hypocritically.
"I'm as strong as a sled dog," To said huskily.


"This is a sick bird," said Tom illegally.
"I brush my teeth ten times a day," said Tom implacably.
"That little devil didn't tell the truth," Tom implied.
"I'm burning aromatic substances," said Tom, incensed.
"That mink coat is on wrong side out," Tom inferred.
"May I become a chorister?" Tom inquired.
"Don't let me drown in Paris!" pleaded Tom insanely.
"I've locked onto the target," Tom said insightfully.
"I'm building up my muscles," Tom insinuated.
"I've borrowed my sister's camping equipment," said Tom insistently.
"It's my personal magnetism," said Tom ironically.


"I'm the Court entertainer," Tom jested.
"His Honour is crazy," Tom submitted judgementally
"I'd like chicken soup with matzo balls and gefilte fish," said Tom judiciously.


"My parents are called Billy and Nanny," Tom kidded.
"I've run out of wool," said Tom, knitting his brow.
"I deny everything," said Tom knowingly.


I never play any music by Hungarian composers," said Tom listlessly.
"I refuse to make an agenda," Tom said listlessly.
"I helped my friend take out the rubbish," Tom said literally.
"It's where we store the hay," Tom said loftily.
"I used to chop down trees for a living," said Tom lumberingly.


"I'm just going to put these handcuffs on you," said Tom manically.
"It's only average," said Tom meanly.
"A million thanks, Monsieur," said Tom mercifully.
"Perhaps I will," said Tom with all his might.
"It's hard work arresting that girl!" said Tom, labouring under a misapprehension.
"My stereo's half-fixed," said Tom monotonously.
"I want a motorised bicycle," Tom moped.
"We need a higher price at auction," Tom said morbidly.
"It's 3 a.m," Tom said mournfully.
"I didn't mean to have my cheek pierced," said Tom mysteriously.


Naughtily, Tom said nothing.
"I'm not very wealthy," said Tom needily.
"I haven't had my photographs developed yet," said Tom negatively.
"That just doesn't add up," said Tom, nonplussed.
"I can read music," said Tom notably.


"What's a wide-angle lens?" asked Tom obtusely.
"That horse looks a good bet at 17 to 1," said Tom oddly.
"Do you buy and sell stolen goods?" Tom asked offensively.
"My wrists are bleeding stumps!" said Tom offhandedly.
"It's half a score," Tom said often.
"My bicycle wheel is damaged," said Tom outspokenly.


"I had an accident in the kitchen," said Tom with panache.
"I've deduced that this is the right way," said Tom pathologically.
"I'm waiting to see the doctor," said Tom patiently.
"I can do an excellent impression of Sinatra," said Tom, being perfectly frank.
"Has my magazine arrived yet?" Tom asked periodically.
"I need to clear my throat," said Tom phlegmatically.
"I've removed all the feathers from this chicken," said Tom pluckily.
"I wonder where to plant these water-lilies?" Tom pondered.
"What comes before cocious?" Tom asked precociously.
"I'm here - and I've got a gift!" said Tom presently.
"I'm just an ordinary soldier," Tom admitted privately.
"I'm a teacher at the university," Tom professed.
"I've dyed my hair green and stuck a pin through my nose," said Tom punctually.
"The cat seems happy now it's been fed," said Tom purposefully.


"I've cut my fingernails far too short," Tom said quickly.
"This is where I keep my arrows," said Tom, quivering.
"This is the fastest way to get drunk," said Tom quixotically.
"I will ask the questions," said Tom quizzically


"Have you ever been whitewater rafting?" Tom asked rapidly.
"I'm covered in scarlet paint," Tom said readily.
"""Said Tom recursively," said Tom recursively," said Tom recursively," said Tom recursively.
"Nice looking glass!" said Tom reflectively.
"I'm not going to be on time again," Tom related.
"OK, you can borrow it again," Tom relented.
"That is remarkable," Tom remarked.
"I'd better repeat that SOS message," said Tom remorsefully.
"I'll have to dig another ditch around the castle," Tom sighed, remotely.
"Can I go search for the holy grail again? Tom requested.
"I suppose I'll have to write my name again," said Tom resignedly.
"That's the third electric shock I've had this week!" Tom said, revolted.
"Balls!" Tom said roundly.
"What's the name of that street in Paris?" asked Tom ruefully.


"This chicken has been stuffed," said Tom sagely.
"So only one person arrived at the party before I did?" Tom second-guessed.
"I won't tell you anything aboyt my salivary glands," said Tom secretively.
"I'll use my stopwatch to see how fast it moves,"said Tom, seconding the motion.
"Wanna buy an herring?" Tom asked selfishly.
"There's the Dog Star," Tom said seriously.
"You lamb!" said Tom sheepishly.
"Ought I to do this?" asked Tom with a shudder.
"This looks like the fruit of the blackthorn," said Tom slowly.
"The optician probably doesn't have my glasses ready yet," Tom speculated.
"Save the whales," spouted Tom.
"That car you sold me has defective steering!" Tom said, straightforwardly.
"So this is where they make movies," Tom said studiously.
"What's this black stain on my lips?" asked Tom succinctly.
"This tuna is excelent," said Tom superficially.


"I work at a bank," said Tom tellingly.
"I put in the highest bid for the contract," Tom tendered.
"I have no idea," said Tom thoughtlessly.
"Parsley, sage, rosemary," said Tom timelessly.
"I'm going to fix the roof," Tom translated.
"I was adopted," said Tom transparently.
"I punched him in the stomach three times," said Tom triumphantly.


"The bank doesn't want me as a customer," said Tom unaccountably.
"I don't know any shanties," said Tom unceasingly.
"I flatly deny everything," said Tom under pressure.
"I won't stand for painting," said Tom uneasily.
"How long will I have to wait for a table?" asked Tom unreservedly.
"I'm going to be intestate," said Tom unwillingly.
"I just saw a lion fly overhead," Tom said uproariously.


"I need an injection," Tom pleaded in vain.
"So that's the way the wind blows," said Tom vainly.
"This is a picture of my new house," said Tom, visibly moved.


"I've caught Moby Dick!" Tom wailed.
"It's a kind of Chinese soup," said Tom wantonly.
"Do you know the location?" asked Tom warily.
"I'm always exhausted by Friday," said Tom weakly.
"I'm not a real man," Tom whimpered.
"This grape juice has fermented," Tom whined.
"You're burning the candle at both ends," Tom said wickedly.
"I wish I'd said that, Oscar," said Tom wildly.
"I've read all Shakespeare's works," said Tom wilfully.
"Some you lose," said Tom winsomely.
"I'd like to learn a new card game," Tom said wistfully.
"Do salmon wear sweaters?" asked Tom wolfishly.
"I learned all this off by heart," Tom wrote.


"I'll make you a copy," Tom xeroxed.
"I'll engrave our names in this piece of wood," Tom xylographed.


"Listen to me make a noise like a dog," Tom yapped.
"Excuse me for gaping at you," Tom yawned.
"My stocks and shares have appreciated nicely," said Tom yieldingly.


"I can't eat any more lemon peel," said Tom zestfully.
"Your fly is undone," was Tom's zippy rejoiner.
"It smells like an elephant's toilet," said Tom in Zulu.

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