Linguistic humor, Glibquips

Source: Roz Warren, ed. 1994. Glibquips. Funny words by funny women. The Crossing Press.
Puns and spoonerisms
Lexical ambiguity
Structural and scope ambiguity

Puns and spoonerisms

A waist is a terrible thing to mind. (Jane Caminos, 43)

Life's a beach, and then you dry. (92)

Q. What do you get when you cross a penis with a potato?
A. A dictator.
(Girl Jock Magazine, 117)

My karma ran over my dogma. (120)

My mother's Puerto Rican and my father's Russian-Jewish so we consider ouselves to be Jewricans or Puertojews. I think Puertojew sounds like a kosher bathroom, so I prefer Jewrican. (Rachel Ticotin, 134)

Jeez if you love Honkus. (138)

A hard man is good to find. (Mae West, 144)


Vegetarians eat vegetables—I'm a humanitarian. (167)

Lexical ambiguity

Maxwell House Airlines—good to the last drop! (7)

I met this guy who said he loved children, then I found out he was on parole for it. (Monica Piper, 24)

I still miss my ex-husband. But my aim is improving. (44)

Question authority. Ask me anything. (49)

It's not true I had nothing on. I had the radio on. (Marilyn Monroe, 65)

I'm a wonderful housekeeper. Every time I get divorced, I keep the house. (Zsa Zsa Gabor, 78)

Nature abhors a vacuum. And so do I. (Anne Gibbons, 80)

Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution yet. (Mae West, 99)

I believe we should all pay our tax bill with a smile. I tried—but they wanted cash. (111)

The press went tearing off down a very dangerous and stupid path in '88 when they wrote about Hart's affairs. After twenty-five years of watching politics I have never been able to cite any correlation whatever between who these guys screw and how they perform in public office. The question is who they screw in their public capacity. (Molly Ivins, 125)

I majored in nursing but I had to drop it because I ran out of milk. (Judy Tenuta, 142)


Take my advice—I'm not using it. (3)

I'm over the hill, but the climb was terrific! (6)

One more drink, and I'll be under the host. (Dorothy Parker, 16)

Choose your words with taste. You may have to eat them. (25)

Talk is cheap. Until you hire a lawyer. (31)

I'd like to take you out—and leave you there. (38)

To err is human but it feels divine. (Mae West, 52)

My heart is as pure as the driven slush. (Tallulah Bankhead, 53)

I eat junk food to get it out of the house. (57)

I hate to spread rumors, but what else can one do with them? (Amanda Lear, 68)

I'm so laid back I fell off. (87)

You can't judge a book by its movie. (93)

George, you're too old to get married again. Not only can't you cut the mustard, honey, you're too old to open the jar. (La Wanda Page to George Burns, 100)

A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country. (Texas Guinan, 125)

Bureaucrats cut red tape—lengthwise. (126)

My reality check just bounced. (136)

I feel like a million tonight—but one at a time. (Mae West, 148)

You can name your salary here—I call mine Zelda. (170)

The problem with trouble shooting is that trouble shoots back. (170)

Structural and scope ambiguity

This is not a novel to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force. (Dorothy Parker, 94)


My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-three today and we don't know where the hell she is. (Ellen Degeneres, 55)

This recipe is certainly silly. It says to separate two eggs, but it doesn't say how far to separate them. (Gracie Allen, 57)

My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands. Two of them were just napping. (Rita Rudner, 69)

Don't hate yourself in the morning—sleep till noon. (87)

A woman came to ask the doctor if a woman should have children after 35. I said 35 children is enough for any woman! (Gracie Allen, 112)


Legislators do not merely mix metaphors; they are the Waring blenders of metaphors, the Cuisinarts of the field. By the time you let the head of the camel into the tent, opening a loophole big enough to drive a truck through, you may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater by putting a Band-Aid on an open wound, and they you have to turn over the first rock in order to find a sacred cow. (Molly Ivins, 30)

Real Texans do not use the word "summer" as a verb. Real Texans do not wear blue slacks with little green whales all over them. And real Texans never refer to trouble to 'deep doo-doo.' (Molly Ivins, 126)


committee a group that takes minutes and wastes hours (41)
foreign aid the transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries (128)
religion basically guilt, with different holidays (138)


I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain. (Jane Wagner, 24)

I didn't steal this. It was "differently acquired." (Sara Cytron, 36)

They say you shouldn't say nothing about the dead unless it's good. He's dead. Good. (Moms Mabley, 40)

Dyslexics of the world untie. (47)

Dyslexics have more fnu. (47)

There's not much good in the worst of us, and so many of the worst of us get the best of us, that the rest of us aren't even worth talking about. (Gracie Allen, 119)

When I was born, I was so surprised I couldn't talk for a year and a half. (Gracie Allen, 131)

You'll go to Heck if you don't believe in Gosh. (139)