Tom Swifties are named
after a character created by Victor Appleton (Edward L. Stratemeyer). According
to David Mendosa, Stratemeyer “worked
hard to have Tom never simply say anything. He asserted, asseverated, averred,
chuckled, declared, ejaculated, expostulated, grinned (plainly or mischievously),
groaned, quipped, or smiled.” Frequently, he punned. The puns could be
embedded in the verb, as in
“I'm losing my hair,” Tom bawled.
(See the “Alternatives to
More often, however,
the pun is embedded in an adverb (or an adverbial prepositional phrase)
that characterizes the manner in which something is said:
“My pencil is blunt,” said Tom pointlessly.
“I love hot dogs,” said Tom with relish.
In some cases, the pun is embedded in an S/V/PN pattern
in which a subordinate clause functions as the subject and the pun appears
in an adjective to the predicate noun:
“Your trousers have come apart!” was Tom's unseemly comment.
Tom Swifties make enjoyable practice and/or review
For more Tom Swifties, see David
Mendosa's page and the collection at fun-with-words.com.
(You can, of course, also find more by searching the web.) If you'd like
to check Appleton's originals, many of his Tom Swift books are available
in electronic format at Classic