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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Wellerisms, named after sayings of Sam Weller in Charles Dickens's novel The Pickwick Papers, make fun of established clich├ęs and proverbs by showing that they are wrong in certain situations, often when taken literally. In this sense, wellerisms that include proverbs are a type of anti-proverb. Typically a wellerism consists of three parts: a proverb or saying, a speaker, and an often humorously literal explanation.

Sam Weller's propensity to use the types of constructions now called "wellerisms" have inspired plays; sometimes, the playwrights have created even more wellerisms.

A type of wellerism called a Tom Swifty incorporates a speaker attribution that puns on the quoted statement.

See also

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