People often make these mistakes in speech on purpose, just for amusement. Sometimes, however, they are unintentional and prove even funnier. In this case, is there a specific term for them?


  • "belly jeans" for "jelly beans"
  • "a can of boot reer" for "a can of root beer"
  • "a wottle of bine" for "a bottle of wine"
  • "holed and sealed" for "soled and healed"
  • "cling spreaning" for "spring cleaning"
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    The usual name is a Spoonerism. Google on that name to see why. – John Lawler Oct 18 '14 at 15:50
  • Wouldn’t the third one have to be a wattle of bine to make any sense? (But then, of course, it would make perfect sense, and actually be quite a sensible, imaginable thing.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 18 '14 at 15:55
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Janus, it's an audio phenomenon. Spelling is secondary, I think. – Centaurus Oct 18 '14 at 16:55
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    It means “yes, absolutely”. Otherwise, it would have been “absolutely not”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 18 '14 at 16:59
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    My wife and I like to say Root Beer kicks ass... it boots rear. – Almo Oct 19 '14 at 14:28

I think you are referring to spoonerism : (from Wikipedia)

  • is an error in speech or deliberate play on words in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched between two words in a phrase.

A similar error is metathesis:

  • the re-arranging of sounds or syllables in a word, or of words in a sentence. Most commonly it refers to the switching of two or more contiguous sounds, known as adjacent metathesis or local metathesis:

    • foliage > foilage

    • cavalry > calvary

  • Spot on for both the specific and the general case. I like worked/wrought. – FumbleFingers Oct 18 '14 at 17:06
  • surely that is ablaut grade not metathesis? – Francis Davey Oct 18 '14 at 17:48
  • As I recall, there's also a term for substituting the wrong but similar-sounding word. (Though can't think of a good example just now.) – Hot Licks Oct 19 '14 at 1:33
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    @HotLicks, that would be a malapropism: "I just can't get the hang of physics, it's too conflagrated for my poor little brain." – Hellion Oct 19 '14 at 1:54
  • Is pronouncing "nuclear" as "nuke-you-lar" an example of metathesis or might it be something else (since the syllables were not simply rearranged)? – codingoutloud Oct 19 '14 at 7:44

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