A language full of laughs

English can be a lot of laughs. Slightly misplaced words, phrases or a few commas can result in hilarious double meanings; seemingly minor grammatical faux pas can cause readers to break out in gales of laughter when no humour was ever intended by the writer.

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm clock goes off when turned on.

The English language laughs contained on these pages were gathered from a number of sources. Where the source is known, it is given, but often these things make the rounds online and among writers and editors who, all too often, find them in their work. And so it is here: random laughs offered to writers and editors, and anyone else desperate for some laughs at the expense of the English language—a light-hearted break from the serious stuff of “getting it right.”

To begin, some exerpts from: http://favoriteforwards.tripod.com/humor_for_grammar_whizzes.html)

• There’s no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

• English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

• We take English for granted but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

• And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, two geese? One moose, two meese? One rooster, two reester?

• Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you would “comb through the annals of history” but never through a single annal?

• If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

• If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

• In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

• Have you ever run into someone who was dis-combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who are spring chickens, or who would actually hurt a fly?

• English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn’t a race at all).

• That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when you wind up your watch, you start it, but when you wind up your book, you end it!


Hire an editor! Make certain your serious writing is not full of unintended laughs!


More laughs: The rednecks’ medical dictionary

1. Artery – the study of paintings

2. Barium – what doctors do with their fatal mistakes

3. Cauterize – made eye contact with her

4. Dilate – to live long

5. Enema – not a friend

6. Fibula – a small lie

7. Impotent – distinguished, well known

8. Labour pain – getting hurt at work

9. Nitrates – cheaper than day rates

10. Outpatient – a person who has fainted

11. Recovery Room – place to do upholstery

12. Seizure – Roman emperor

13. Tablet – small table

14. Terminal illness – getting sick at the airport

Useless but interesting English 'facts' and questions to ponder:

• A good vacuum really sucks!

• The third hand on a watch is called the second hand!

• If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would you ever know?• Webster wrote the first dictionary, but where did he find the words?

• “Slow down” and “slow up” mean the same thing!

• “Fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing!

• “Tug” boats push barges!

• Sports spectators sit in the “stands!”

• “After dark” really comes after light!

• “Expecting the unexpected” means the unexpected is expected!

• A “wise man” and a “wise guy” are opposites!

• “Overlook” and “oversee” are opposites!

• If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

• If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

• “Bra” is singular but “panties” is plural!

• We put suits in “garment bags” and garments in suitcases!


‘Owed’ to a spell checker... in case you're still not laughing!

I have a spelling checkerIt came with my PC

It plane lee marks four my revue

Miss steaks aye can knot sea

Eye ran this poem threw it

You should be glad two no

It’s very polished in it’s weigh

My checker tolled me sew

A checker is a bless sing

It freeze yew lodes of thyme

It helps me right all stiles of verse

And aides me when aye rime

To rite with care is quite a feet

Of witch won should be prowed

And wee mussed dew the best wee can

Miss stakes are knot aloud

And now bee cause my spelling

Is checked with such grate care

There are know flaws within my site

Of nun eye am a wear

Each frays come posed up on my screen

Eye trussed to be a joule

The checker pores over every word

To cheque some spelling rule

That’s why aye brake in two averse

My righting wants to pleas

Sow now eye sea why aye dew prays

Such soft wear for pea seas


Puns for the educated

(Source of these laughs is unknown.)

1. King Ozymandias of Assyria was short on cash after years of war with the Hittites.

His last possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan.

Croesus said, “I’ll give you 100,000 dinars for it.”

“But I paid a million dinars for it,” the King protested. “I am the king!”

Croesus replied, “When you wish to pawn a Star, it makes no difference who you are.”

2. William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. But the Swiss league records were destroyed in a fire... and so we’ll never know for whom the Tells bowled.

3. A man rushed into a busy doctor’s office: “Doctor! I’m shrinking!”

The doctor calmly responded, “Now, settle down. You’ll just have to be a little patient.”

4. A marine biologist developed genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever when fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, the seagull supply ran out, so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he saw two lions asleep on the road; he gingerly stepped over them.

He was soon arrested and charged with... transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

5. A thief stole all the toilets and urinals from the local police station, leaving no clues. An officer told the media, “We have absolutely nothing to go on.”

6. A tribal chief was sick so he summoned the medicine man, who took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day.

After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, “The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on.”

7. A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. After complaining, the local civic official apologized profusely, “I must have taken Leif off my census.”

8. An anthropologist was cataloguing South American folk remedies. A tribal leader indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the man said, “With fronds like these, you don’t need enemas.”


And for you newspaper readers, some bad headline laughs!

“Coffee tax collection costs dwarf revenue” (Is “dwarf” a noun, or a verb here??)

“One-armed man applauds the kindness of strangers” (With one arm, that must have been a challenge!)

“Toronto newspaper runs photo of man’s goods” (Really??)