Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Trivia 4

Tom Swifties are some of my favorite puns. Essentially, they use wordplay shared between a quote and its attribution, in the verb, the adverb, or some other description. For example:
"I can't believe it's Monday again," Tom said weakly.
"I dropped my toothpaste," Tom said, crestfallen.
"Who discovered radium?" asked Marie curiously.
They're a parody of the adverb-heavy writing style of the long-running Tom Swift series of juvenile adventure books, and they are amazingly open-ended. Tom Swifties are a subclass of Wellerism, named after Sam Weller from The Pickwick Papers, a pun which normally includes a quote and an action related by wordplay, such as:
"We'll have to rehearse that," said the undertaker as the coffin fell out of the car.
"I can see!" said the blind carpenter, as he picked up the hammer and saw.
And Wellerisms are themselves a type of paraprosdokian, a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence forces a reinterpretation of the first part, like the following from Dorothy Parker and Groucho Marx, respectively:
"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it."
Your trivia question today is about adverbs. Serious bonus points if you answer in the form of a Tom Swifty or Wellerism, however forced.

Along with adverbs, English also has a pile of adjectives that end in -ly: friendly, ugly, deadly, lonely, and lively, to name a few. It also has a bunch of words that can be adjectives or adverbs that end in -ly, but they follow a pretty strict pattern with units of time: daily, nightly, weekly, monthly, and so on. Your task: Name a word in English ending in -ly that can be an adjective or an adverb, but does not refer to a repeating interval of time.

(As far as I've found, there are only two such words in the whole English language. One is extremely common and the other is not, although both are found in any standard register.)

(Scratch that: there are several, with varying degrees of use. But the rarer one I originally thought of has yet to be found.)


  1. alright it has to do with time but its more lenient: early?

  2. That is indeed the common one I was thinking of. Great work. Any idea about the other?

  3. "I'm feeling bad that I didn't get that one," she said sickly.

    (I tried...)

    (But really, what about sickly?)

  4. Sickly works! I hadn't thought of that one. There's another one still lurking...

  5. homely. it's a stretch, but it can be used as an adverb.

  6. In connection with your previous post on bilingual puns, I offer this bilingual Tom Swifty:
    "Eins, zwei, drei, drei, fünf", Tom said both dryly and fearlessly.

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  8. I really couldn't be bothered about how cold it is, Tom said chilly.