Tom Swifties: Fun & Games

Get thee to a punnery!

What is a Tom Swifty? The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (1st edition, 1966) defines it as:

… a play on words that follows an unvarying pattern and relies for its humor on a punning relationship between the way an adverb describes a speaker and at the same time refers significantly to the import of the speaker’s statement, as in “I know who turned off the lights,” Tom hinted darkly. Named after a narrative mannerism characteristic of the Tom Swift American series of adventure novels for boys.

The Swifties on this page are from a variety of sources—some online, some offline, some from my own weird head. I’ve long since forgotten which ones came from where, so if anyone recognizes their Swifty on this page, do send me a note and I’ll credit you. Alternately, feel free to e-mail me your own original Swifties, and I’ll put ’em up!

  • “Wow, that sure is a handsome man!” Tom said gaily.
  • “I’m a Christian!” Tom said crossly.
  • “This is just like a fairy tale,” Tom said grimly.
  • “Give me some more macaroni and cheese, and I’ll tell you,” Tom said craftily.
  • “I like modern painting,” Tom said abstractly.
  • “I’m sick of changing clothes,” Tom said wearily.
  • “I’m still looking for my beagle,” Tom said doggedly.
  • “Someday I’ll run the CIA,” Tom said aspiringly.
  • “As soon as the rain stops, we’ll break camp,” Tom said intently.
  • “We have a flat, and it looks like someone took our extra tire!” Tom said despairingly.
  • “I only have diamonds, clubs and spades,” Tom said heartlessly.
  • “I decided which car to purchase after looking at the pictures,” Tom said autobiographically.
  • “I voted against Clinton in his last election run,” Tom said dolefully.
  • “Boy, that’s an ugly hippopotamus!” Tom said hypocritically.
  • “Mush!” Tom said huskily.
  • “This boat is leaking,” Tom said balefully.
  • “My pencil is dull,” Tom said pointlessly.
  • “I forgot what to buy,” Tom said listlessly.
  • “I brought the dessert,” Tom said piously.
  • “_____,” Tom said blankly.
  • “I need a drink,” Tom said drily.
  • “The prisoner escaped down a rope,” Tom said condescendingly.
  • “My stereo is broken,” Tom said disconsolately.
  • “My stereo’s half-fixed,” Tom said monotonously.
  • “My stereo is working great now,” Tom said ecstatically.
  • “Nay!” Tom said hoarsely.
  • “I enjoy exploring tombs,” Tom said cryptically.
  • "“I manufacture tabletops,” said Tom counterproductively.
  • “It’s the maid’s night off,” Tom said helplessly.
  • “Someone pass the Parmesan,” Tom said gratingly.
  • “I must patch this coat,” Tom said raggedly.
  • “It’s just gold leaf,” Tom said guiltily.
  • “It’s time for the burial,” Tom said gravely.
  • “It’s not fair!” Tom said darkly.
  • “I was the first to climb Mount Everest,” Tom said hilariously.
  • “I brush my teeth several times a day,” Tom said implacably.
  • “Congratulations; you graduated,” Tom said diplomatically.
  • "“This must be a blackout!” Tom said delightedly.
  • “I’m swimming in the middle of Paris!” Tom said insanely.
  • “I can’t believe you set off the dynamite!” Tom said explosively.
  • “Watch this insect sail through the air,” Tom said flippantly.
  • “I ain’t afraid of no Injun warriors!” Tom said bravely.
  • “Let’s eat kosher tonight,” Tom said judiciously.
  • “I used to command a battalion of German ants,” Tom said exuberantly.
  • “I think I broke my leg,” Tom said lamely.
  • “Maybe I need a lobotomy,” Tom said absentmindedly.
  • “I have a split personality,” Tom said frankly.
  • “I have lost all my Hungarian sheet music,” Tom said listlessly.
  • “I swallowed some of the glass from that broken window,” Tom said painfully.
  • “Boy, that sure took the wind out of my sails!” Tom said disgustedly.
  • “Give me the gun,” Tom said disarmingly.
  • “I do too have Jedi powers!” Tom said forcefully.
  • “I made the pep squad!” Tom said cheerfully.
  • “I just couldn’t hit the target,” Tom said aimlessly. (Thanks to Ban for this one!)
  • “We must go to the back of the ship,” Tom said sternly.
  • “I don’t think this ship is tilting at all,” Tom said listlessly.
  • “My mother got a sex change,” Tom said transparently.

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