Two or more words or phrases share the same consonants in the same order, with any number of vowels. Y is treated as a vowel. Example: ONE = acorn, TWO = crayon, THREE = ocarina.

Each time I play a polka, all the girls pelt me with peonies.
I start a samba -- snowdrops, if you please!
Before I’ve run a rumba through, it rains down rhododendrons,
And when I ONE the TWO they throw me THREEs.

The solution: ONE = begin, TWO = beguine, THREE = begonia.

The consonantcy was invented by Newrow in 1991.


A word or phrase becomes another when some grammatical change is inappropriately applied. For example, a false plural: ONE = inter, TWO = interim (analogy with the plurals seraphim and cherubim).

To FINAL her ego, he made up his mind
To PRIMAL her up -- ah, a clever man, he.
For flattery gets you, not nowhere, you’ll find,
But right to the place you’re most eager to be.
=Polly and Mangie

The solution: PRIMAL = butter, FINAL = buttress (analogous to waiter and waitress.)

Some other examples will show you how many possibilities there are:

The false antecedent: ONE = sent, TWO = present; or ONE = sting, TWO = foresting.
The false comparative: ONE = limb, TWO = limber.
The false gerund: ONE = shill, TWO = shilling.
The false negative: ONE = plus, TWO = nonplus; or ONE = gone, TWO = Antigone.
The false past tense: ONE = worst, TWO = worsted; or ONE = live, TWO = lave (analogy with give and gave).
The false reiterative: ONE = treat, TWO = retreat.

False flats based on very obscure derivations, or even on pairs of words that are not derivationally related, are fairly common. In such cases, to be fair to solvers, the model should appear in the verse, or at least be very clearly clued. For example, the false plural: ONE = shader, TWO = Shadrach (“knaidel” appeared in the verse; its plural is “knaidlach”). Or the false opposite: ONE = census, TWO = SASEs (based on the opposition “centum/satem,” explained in 11C; the word “centum” appeared in the verse, as did an explanation of the opposition.)


A word or phrase (the bank) is chosen that has no repeated letters. One or more longer words or phrases are formed, each using all the letters in the bank at least once and as many more times as needed. At least one word must be three or more letters longer than the bank. Examples: ONE = lens, TWO = senselessness; or SHORT = law, LONG = Walla Walla. The bank can produce a number of longer words or phrases. For example: FIRST = larch pines, SECOND = pencil sharpener, THIRD = Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin; or ONE = manicures, TWO = Neiman Marcus, THREE = American sumac, FOUR = marine insurance.

Quasimodo rings his bells
Without regard for how he smells.
He heads each day from bed to tower,
Never stopping for a shower.
He never performs a single EIGHT
Before a sweaty day of GREAT.
=Mr. Tex

The solution: EIGHT = ablution, GREAT = tintinnabulation.

Not surprisingly, it’s harder to make long words and phrases from a bank than short ones. For example, you can make several six-letter words from field, including fiddle, filled, and defile, but only one twelve-letter word, fiddledeedee, and no longer words at all. The longer words produce a more interesting puzzle; as long as you have one word that’s three (or more) letters longer, it’s all right to add very well clued shorter ones.

The letter bank was invented by WILLz, who introduced it at the 1980 convention.


A phrase (or, less commonly, a word) becomes another when the initial consonant sounds in its component words (or stressed syllables) are swapped. Spoonergrams are always phonetic; spelling may change. For example: ONE = Morse code, TWO = course mowed; or ONE = key ring, TWO = reeking. Note: unlike most flat bases, those of spoonergrams don’t have to be dictionary entries.

SPOONERGRAM (9, 5 *4) (*4 not MW)
“That TWO bit, no-good grouchy cuss
That he is, is at the door.”
“Oh, Henry, is he suing us?”
“Why, no, pet, fret no more.
He called to say he’d bring us, dear,
A ONE he took of me
The day that twister threw me clear
Into the apple tree.”

The solution: ONE = telephoto, TWO = fella Toto.

For a list of sounds considered single and indivisible, see phonetic flats.

Although the spoonergram usually involves swapping two sounds or sound clusters, sometimes only one sound actually moves. For example, ONE = four inches, TWO = or finches; or ONE = trained seal, TWO = strained eel. Since the spoonergram is purely a phonetic flat, word boundaries needn’t be preserved. For example, if ONE is White Plains, TWO may be either plight wanes or ply Twain’s, since the two are phonetically the same. Another example: ONE = deer wakes, TWO = weird aches.

Not every word in the spoonergram need change. For example: ONE = rake over the coals, TWO = cake over the rolls. Words that don’t change are noted with the puzzle.

Sometimes more than two words are involved in the swapping of sounds. For example: ONE = cold sailor rowed the tipping boat, TWO = bold tailor sewed the ripping coat.

Many possible spoonergram variations are made by swapping sounds other than the initial consonants. (For example: ONE = light red, TWO = let ride, swapping vowels.) Provide an example with each puzzle of this sort, so that the solver knows which sounds are swapped.

The spoonergram was introduced by Emmo W. in March 1945.

This page was last updated on Thursday, June 18, 2015. /webmaster