"Take the prisoner downstairs", said Tom condescendingly.
by Mark Israel
[This is a fast-access FAQ excerpt.]
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: [...]
or by e-mail from me.
[Mark Israel's Web site at Scripps apparently no longer
exists; however there is a Web site that apparently has
the same content, including his collection of Tom Swifties.
The Web site is at
To see the Tom Swifties, click on 'TomSwifties.html'.]
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.