I found this interesting figure of speech called spoonerism.

Here's the article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoonerism

Now, I have been wondering if spoonerism can be used in a non-humoristic manner, because it would be a useful tool to make verses rhyme. There are words like angel that don't rhyme with words that doesn't contain the word angel.

So it could be useful in the case where I have:

Levitating angels

Which can be turned into:

Elvitating angles

However, there's an unintentional comedic effect that cannot be fully dissociated, or is it the case?

One interesting usage that doesn't seem to involve comedy is the following:

Similarly to the above example, "Buck Fama" is a popular slogan in the (often contentious) rivalry between Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama (commonly shortened to Bama). This slogan can be heard very often from LSU fans.

So is it possible to do so? I am asking because the above example seems to suggest so.

  • In German, there exists the so-called “Schüttelreim” (literally translated, shaking rhyme), which is exactly based on such consonant switching. However, Schüttelreim poems are usually comedic.
    – celtschk
    Aug 4, 2019 at 9:48

1 Answer 1


The original Spoonerisms were accidental slips of the tongue and became a source of ridicule. Deliberate ones are either humorous or offensive - as the second example you cite is intended to anger the fans of the other team.

Most spoonerisms take two words and turn then accidentally into two other words. If I were reading something and found elvitating angles near levitating angels I would be disappointed.

Poetry should be one of the highest forms of expression we have and stunts like that would make me put it down. I am all for experimentation in language, but this seems a mistake unless you want to create humor or a puzzle.

I have never been able to dash out and write verse on command. I wait and hear a phrase, sometimes just two words and I know I might have something. I often select the sonnet form, rarely choosing a ballad, though once I finished a nine canto two thousand couplet parody of knights - it was a poem by committee and hell to finish. My contribution ended up being 85% of it, but we had couplets submitted by fellow students and the occasional professor. Never again, though Random Musings is a fun though somewhat bizarre read.

Consider what Coleridge attains with careful use of sometimes simple but often cryptic words. He can evoke humor or horror and it still is such beautiful poetry that it demands to be read aloud that the ear can revel in it too.

I can’t read Kubla Khan without at least wanting to read it aloud. He used real words to convey meaning in a beautiful fashion.

I urge you not to try and use stunts and gimmicks to make your rhymes. Near rhymes or eye rhymes would be better than transposing syllables. When you must contort the language to make your piece work, you might end up writing a corkscrew.

  • 1
    "Poetry should be one of the highest forms of expression ..." This seems very opinionated. Poetry, IMHO, is nothing more than another form of communication. If one enjoys poetry, there's no issues with that. Each should enjoy whatever form of writing they enjoy. However, to some, poetry is contrived nonsense. Depending on your perspective, either attitude can be wrong or right. Mar 15, 2019 at 13:14
  • I honestly can't think of a way to make spoonerism work in poetry, especially if you try to write one with a serious tone.
    – Sayaman
    Mar 16, 2019 at 11:59
  • @repomonster It might work, but it does not seem to be something that can be ought but humorous or insulting. It might work in a limerick, but not a poem. Fewer gimmicks should give you better verse.
    – Rasdashan
    Mar 16, 2019 at 13:00

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