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181 "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." (Words frequently sought - alt.usage.english)




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This article is from the alt.usage.english FAQ, by Mark Israel misrael@scripps.edu with numerous contributions by others.

181 "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." (Words frequently sought - alt.usage.english)


Sentences containing every letter of the alphabet are called
"pangrams", or "holalphabetic sentences". They are covered in part 2
of the language section of the rec.puzzles archive.

"Take the prisoner downstairs", said Tom condescendingly.

A sentence where a description of the manner of saying refers
punningly to quoted matter is called a "Tom Swifty". (Some
people restrict "Tom Swifty" to sentences where the pun is in an
adverb, and use "croaker" for sentences where the pun is in the
verb: "'I'm dying', he croaked.") The name "Tom Swifty" derives
from the Tom Swift adventure series for boys (whose enthusiastic use
of adverbs modifying "said" they parody); but the form goes back to
the 19th century, and was used by James Joyce in "Ulysses" (1922).

I maintain the Canonical Collection of Tom Swifties, with over
900 entries. It's available on the WWW as:
<http://www.scripps.edu/pub/dem-web/misrael/TomSwifties.html>
or by e-mail from me.

A sentence where words following a quotation humorously
reinterpret what is quoted ("'Eureka!' said Archimedes to the
skunk") is called a "wellerism", after the character Sam Weller in
Dickens' novel "The Pickwick Papers". The form predates Dickens.

 

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