Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Wellerisms.

Wellerisms. A wellerism (after Sam Weller or his father, two noted characters in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers [1836-1837]), is a statement, especially a proverbial or allusive one, in which the speaker puts the words in a new light or a surprising setting, often by means of punning. E.g.: o “‘That’s food for reflection,’ as the goat said when it swallowed a mirror.” o “‘Spit is such a horrid word,’ said the pig, as he was about to be barbecued.” For the definitive work, see Wolfgang Mieder & Stewart A. Kingsbury, A Dictionary of Wellerisms (1994). For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The English language today is alive, vigorous — and changing. It is flexible, not rigidly fixed. The speech of the people won’t wear the harness of rules. Here in America we do not actively rebel against the rules — we simply are not rule-conscious.” Edward N. Teall, Putting Words to Work 63 (1940). ====================
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