Cranium-Cracking Cryptic Crosswords, Volume 2
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&Lit’sWordplay devicesLetter shifts

Wordplay devices


Spoonerisms are whimsical transpositions of two or more initial consonant sounds in a phrase, e.g., saying “well-boiled icicle” instead of “well-oiled bicycle.” They are named after the Reverend William A. Spooner, who was reputedly prone (perhaps apocryphally) to this type of speech error. Spoonerisms are marked by a can’t-miss indicator that calls out Spooner by name:

Spooner says recognize courage or lose it (2,4)

Here, “recognize courage” translates to know guts, which when spoonerized gives the answer GO NUTS. Note that when a spoonerism is coined, only pronunciation is considered and spelling is ignored.

Note: In North America, the Reverend is sometimes used as a synonym for Spooner.