Some champagne for my real friend, some real pain for my sham friends."

Is there a name for this kind of sentence?

Note: I'm not sure the origin of this, but it is a line in Spike Lee's movie, 25th Hour

  • 6
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.
    – Neil
    Apr 22, 2011 at 20:40
  • 6
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Apr 22, 2011 at 22:23
  • 3
    The people who mind don't matter; the people who matter don't mind.
    – mfe
    Apr 23, 2011 at 0:54
  • 2
    "Too fucking busy, and vice-versa." -- Dorothy Parker Apr 23, 2011 at 2:30
  • In Spanish there is a very nice "collection" of these beasts, usually with a structure like (innocent phrase)<->(reversed and dirty phrase). They usually goes like "It is not the same ..(1).. than ..(2)..". Some of them are really funny, and it is enough to mention the first part for your audience to imagine the second. Apr 23, 2011 at 7:28

2 Answers 2


Looks like a chiasmus or an antimetabole to me, with a pun thrown in for good measure.

In rhetoric, chiasmus (from the Greek: χιάζω, chiázō, "to shape like the letter Χ") is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism. [...] Today, chiasmus is applied fairly broadly to any "criss-cross" structure, although in classical rhetoric it was distinguished from other similar devices, such as the antimetabole.

The most famous example probably being

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 19:30.)

  • To be clear: The chiasmus here is the use of sham/real and not pain/friends, yes? "Sham [x] for my real [y]; real [x] for my sham [y]."
    – MrHen
    Apr 22, 2011 at 19:56
  • 2
    My 12-year-old loved antimetabole and would point them out when she heard them. One character in the the Ben Stiller/William H. Macy flop Mystery Men speaks entirely in antimetabole until Stiller shrieks at him in frustration. Apr 23, 2011 at 2:29
  • It's also known as a Reversible raincoat.
    – Yahel
    Apr 23, 2011 at 3:49
  • can you indicate which of the sentences in the question's comments qualify as a chiasmus?
    – Louis Rhys
    Apr 23, 2011 at 7:40

In English, this type of pun is called a Spoonerism. In German, it's called a Schüttelreim.

  • 7
    It should be noted that a Schüttelreim is actually a rhyme, the German word for spoonerism being, unsurprisingly, Spoonerismus.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 22, 2011 at 23:01
  • 6
    It is not a Spoonerism (it's antimetabole). A Spoonerism is an accidentally swapping of sounds, which some times produces valid words (Dr Spooner once referred to the dear old Queen as the "queer old dean") and sometimes not (once he quoted a verse about "conquering kings" as "kinkering kongs"). Apr 23, 2011 at 2:25
  • @Malvolio, well corrected.
    – Karl
    Apr 23, 2011 at 7:30
  • @Malvolio: While Spooner may have used the speech pattern accidentally, it is used to describe similar deliberate wordplay today.
    – user2400
    Apr 23, 2011 at 12:15
  • @JoeWresching -- do you have a cite for that? I'm not saying you're wrong, I have just never seen it. The world is so full of a number of things, I 'm sure we should all be as happy as kongs... Apr 23, 2011 at 16:16

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