Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Wellerisms

Wellerisms

You may be wondering what a wellerism is. Here’s an overused, but classic example.

“I see,” said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer & saw.

A wellerism is a well-known (or sometimes not-so-well known) interjection or statement, followed by a facetious or witty phrase. Here are a few more.

"I hope I made myself clear," said the water as it passed through the filter.

“If the tongue were not in me,” says the head, “I would not have been cut off.”

"Remarkable," said the teacher, trying out her new dry-erase board.

"So far, so good," said the escapee as he looked back at the prison in the distance.

"It's all coming back to me now," Salvador remarked after spitting into the wind.

"Let's dig up that body," said Arianna, gravely.

"My business is looking good," said the model.

"We'd better rehearse this," said the undertaker after the coffin had fallen out of the vehicle.

Though he’s not responsible for wellerisms themselves, Charles Dickens is responsible for creating a character after whom we name wellerisms. Sam Weller, in Dickens’s novel, The Pickwick Papers, regularly spoke in this fashion, thus the word, wellerism. We’ll end with an example straight from the mouth of Sam:

“Sorry to do anythin' as may cause an interruption to such wery pleasant proceedin’s," as the king said wen he dissolved the parliament.

I’d love to know which wellerisms you haven’t previously heard, or which ones took a little thinking to make sense of. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.


My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Sleuthsayers, Charles Dickens Page, The Island English Tutor, & Wordnik.

4 comments:

  1. You have explained something that has been a mystery to me for much of my life. My Dad was always saying "I see, said the blind man," when he thought someone didn't get a point he was making. He also mentioned "wellerisms"--which I never understood. But my Dad was a big fan of The Pickwick Papers, which is the one Dickens novel I never could get into. Now everything falls into place. Thanks, Mr. Monger!

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    1. Dearest Miss Allen - so glad to be of help. Like your dad, my mom regularly said this, but she said the whole thing. And I looked through dozens & dozens of Sam Weller's wellerisms (in his impossible dialect) from *The Pickwick Papers* before I found one that almost made sense to the modern ear -- so I see why this book might have eluded your fascination.

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  2. Almost all are new to me. And I've never heard the blind man wellerism in its entirety. I have been out of the loop. I was going to try to make a wellerism out of my last sentence, but... couldn't get there.

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    1. Hey Christine -- I've spent most my life out of the loop. Thanks for coming by, even when life's a bit loopy.

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