u_topn picture

Atlantic Unbound Sidebar

Enjoy a biweekly test of verbal tomfoolery. WWW fame is at stake! Confused? Read all about Word Games in this brief introduction. Brought to you by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, the creators of The Atlantic Puzzler.

Resolving Swiftly
This contest is now closed. But enjoy!
(Click here to go directly to the winning entries.)

It's that time of year, friends, when the wassailing and feasting must desist and the turning over of new leaves must begin. We've already started with our resolutions for 1997:

"I'm going to get my hair cut shorter," declared Emily distressingly.

"I'm going to lose some weight," Henry expounded. "In fact, I think I'll go on a fast," he added swiftly.

"And this year, we're not going to do the same puzzles over and over again," both Emily and Henry resolved.

As you can see, we're making our resolutions in the form of Tom Swifties  -- statements in which adverbs and verbs are used punningly. We'd like you to join in. Dust off your old Swifties and polish up some new ones. Be as outrageous as you dare. Get these puns out of your system now  -- and into our eager mailbox.

To enter this word-game contest, mail your New Year's resolution in the form of a Tom Swifty to puzzles@theatlantic.com. Multiple entries are welcome, but for our convenience confine your entries to one piece of e-mail whenever possible (and please don't use attached files). Senders of our three favorite Swifties will each receive fame, glory, and staggering sums of cash  -- or at any rate, our laughing acknowledgment and a free book from The Atlantic Monthly.

Resolving Swiftly will remain open through Friday, January 17. Winners and full results will be posted on Friday, January 24.

"We'll read each letter," say Emily and Henry permissively.

 -- EC and HR

  • Suggest a contest for your fellow wordplay lovers. If we can use or adapt your idea, we'll bestow upon you any book from The Atlantic Store.

  • Read a short introduction to Word Games .

  • Read a list of Word Games rules.

  • Meet Cox & Rathvon, your Word Games hosts.

  • Check out other past Word Games contests.

  • Enter the current Word Games contest .

    Results of Resolving Swiftly
    This contest is now closed. But enjoy!

    When we asked for New Year's resolutions in the form of Tom Swifties, we should have expected some new leaves to be turned over "flippantly." There were in fact several contestants who made that jokey claim, along with many who went camping intently, entered contests winsomely, filled their gardens lackadaisically, joined the Teamsters truculently, directed traffic haltingly, medicated their pets catatonically, went white-water rafting rapidly, and improved their radio reception ecstatically. Several people vowed to install blowers in their lofts fanatically. A few promised altruistically never to lie, and others pledged offhandedly to be like Captain Hook. We encountered numerous lawyers who retorted, drunkards who whined, tree doctors who opined, and poets who mused.

    With so many puzzle-lovers in the audience, it's not surprising that the resolutions turned cryptic now and then. In this line, our favorites involved anagrams: "I resolve to find an anagram for 'mastoid'," said Tom cryptically.

    "I've decided to be weird Ed's lover," she resolved cryptically.

    "What's an anagram for 'import model'?" Tom implored.

    In the spree of wordplay, a number of punsters breezed past our call for resolutions. Some of the funniest Swifties were of a general nature. Our favorites include:

    "My husbands are two of a kind," she said cogently.

    "They've burned our embassy," said Jimmy Carter disconsolately.

    "That's for Fido to sit on, not you, you lazy cat!" he said dogmatically.

    "Are these dogs Alaskan?" he asked huskily.
    "Oh yes," she replied mushily.

    "That's my helmet, Mr. Stanley," Dr. Livingstone said pithily.

    "That's radium," declared Marie curiously.
    "I'm pro Bono," stated Cher freely.

    "Give me some of your Halloween candy," his older brother trickily entreated.

    "I think I'll follow Jill up that hill," winked Jack fetchingly
    (Alan.R.Schned@Hitchcock.ORG )

    "Do you HAVE to work on Christmas?" timidly asked Bob Cratchit's little son.

    "Well, she was a sunny kind of gal -- not just because she was blonde, though that didn't hurt -- and birds, especially, liked her," Tom conveyed orally.

    "Please, boss, do you think you could establish a presence for us online?" Emily and Henry ASCIIed.

    The majority of our contestants did stick faithfully to resolutions, often achieving feats of outrageous adverbiage. Our three top favorite Swiftifiers, for cracking us up and making us look at words in a whole new light, are rickp@ormutual.com, SenorChips@aol.com, and Birdsinger@aol.com. Congratulations, winners! Thanks, everybody!

    The Winners

    "Oliver, I definitely will become more etiquette-conscious. I'm going to remove the carp from my head whenever I am in the same room with a lady," Laurel told Hardy standoffishly.

    "I will use a plunger to clear the drain," resolved Tom succinctly.
    "I resolve to get these raw fish stains out of my new shirts," said Tom, insouciantly.

    And Other Swifty Favorites

    "I promise to get off my high horse," he vowed with unbridled enthusiasm.

    "When the baseball season starts, I'm going to switch from catcher to shortstop," I said intermittently.

    "In 1997 I will bring down California's sky-high prison population," she resolved condescendingly.

    "I will be less selfish and concentrate less on 'I' and 'me', and more on 'you' and 'yours'," she pronounced.
    (JC Rose@aol.com)

    "I resolve to lose weight this year," she said fatuously.

    "This year I'm joining Friends of the Potato Bugs," said Tom protuberantly.
    "I'm never signing another promissory note in pencil," Tom resolved penuriously.
    "We're going to break the galactic giggling record," Tom and Tina declared superciliously.
    "Henceforth that dog of mine is paying for room and board," Tom resolved currently.
    "From now on I'll be more careful to dot my T's," Tom promised in a crosseyed manner.

    "I resolve to find an adverb that ends '-um' rather than '-ly' this year," said Tom ad verbum.
    "I resolve to hang down my head," said Tom duly.
    "I resolve to use fewer adverbs in 1997," said Tom.
    "This year I'm going to patch things up with the singing group who used to work on the chain gang with me," Tom resolved with unfettered glee.
    "I promise to watch my %$@*&#!@ language this year," Tom swore.
    "Why should I resolve to learn Ebonics this year?" Lizzie Borden axed her parents.
    "I think I'll switch from croquet to golf this year," resolved Tom with no malice aforethought. [no mallets; a "fore" thought]
    "Ik beloof myn schulden dit jaar terug te betalen," resolved Tom in Dutch. ["I promise to repay all my debts this year" -- translation courtesy Aad van Moorsel]
    "I'm going to cut down on drugs," resolved T o m. [spaced out]
    "I resolve to use birth control more faithfully this year," said Thomasina [missing a period]

    "I'm going to get out of the rat race and lead a carefree and comfortable life," he said wryly.
    "This is the year I stop picking people's pockets and start up my own jewelry store," the parolee said confoundedly.
    "My days as a pauper are numbered; I want to finish the year as a prince!" he implored.

    We've resolved to start a family, apparently.

    "This is the year I'll catch a great white shark!" he announced superficially.
    "I won't raise Cain any more," he resolved ably.
    "This is the year I improve my golf game," she chipped in.

    "This year, should I add 'Gone With the Wind' or 'Casablanca' to my series on classic film heroes?" he asked rhetorically.
    "I resolve to take that trip to St. Louis no matter what," said Bud, archly.
    "I resolve to stop chasing girls and spend more time taking care of the yard," he said rakishly.
    "I resolve to call my mother every week," he said sunnily, although his resolution had a phony ring.
    "I resolve to get an 800 number so my kids can call more often," she extolled freely.
    "I'm giving up shallow flings with girls," he said dismissively.
    "I'm giving all my unneeded kitchen utensils to the poor," he said expansively.
    "I'm going to expand my formal garden," he said morosely.
    "Maybe this year I shouldn't spend so much time in front of the mirror," she reflected.
    "There's so many resolutions I could make... I don't know where to begin," he said listlessly.

    "Absolutely NO more hockey jokes," say I, puckishly.

    "I'm just going to have to cut down on the number of girlfriends I have," Tom declared ruthlessly.
    "I resolve to drink more pineapple juice," said Tom dolefully.
    "I resolve to do more exercises to build up my pectorals," Tom said robustly.

    "I must solve one last theorem before I die," Pierre de Fermat told himself reprovingly.
    "I'm going to strip and sand that old table," he said disdainfully.
    "I'm going to wind up moving from this hurricane area," he decided disgustedly.
    "I'm going on a trip," Timothy Leary injected.
    "I really ought to give up smokeless tobacco," he ruminated.
    "I'm going to run for governor," she stated.
    "I must bake cookies," she snapped.

    "I intend to spend less time in jail," Leroy said conservatively.
    "I will visit my family more often," Leroy related.
    "I will run for office," Leroy said incongruously.
    "I will read Voltaire," Leroy admitted candidly.
    "I am going to graduate from college," Leroy stated diplomatically.
    "I'll reupholster the couch," Leroy said philosophically.
    "I am going to play golf for money," Leroy proclaimed.

    "I'm going to take the SAT this year," Tom said testily. "I'm not going to repeat my scores from last time," he said unremarkably; "I'm going to do better!" he added pointedly. "I'll apply to a couple of Ivy League schools," he Yaled Pennsively, "and I fully intend to get in," he admitted. "When I get there, I'll meet my dream girl," he proposed, at first engagingly, then merrily. "We'll have a kid  -- a boy!" he said hospitably, laboriously, and sunnily, "and he'll turn out to be the spittin' image of his dad," he said genially.

    "I pledge to keep better track of expenses," reckoned Tom unaccountably.
    "We need to economize -- I figure we have spent over our budget," he added.
    "I propose to make no new resolutions this year," vowed Tom engagingly.

    "I'm again digging a water-filled ditch around my house," Harold announced remotely.
    "I'm going to avoid probate," Sam replied willfully.
    "I'm getting a television job holding cue cards," Sally answered promptly.
    "I'm going to enjoy an ocean cruise," Amy said saltily.
    "I'm learning to be a pastry chef," Jasper announced tartly.

    "I plan to paint my underwater boat green," Rich said sublimely.
    "I'll buy some new pants," he said slackly, "and some more underwear," he added briefly.
    "I will drive much more carefully," he said recklessly, "and pay off all my parking tickets," he added finely.
    "I will give more attention to my cat," she said pettily.

    "I will go to the theater at least once a month," Bob declared playfully.
    "I won't drop the ball," Bob promised offhandedly.
    "I will add some more spice to my life," Bob declared sagely.
    "I will spend more time outdoors," Bob said good-naturedly.
    "I'll check off each resolution every time I succeed," Bob remarked.
    "I'll repeat these resolutions over and over to myself," Bob said resoundingly.
    "This year, I'll redouble my efforts to keep these resolutions," Bob stated forthrightly.
    His voice cracking, Bob promised, "I will not break these resolutions."

    "This year, I'm going to pass all my driving candidates," the test administrator promised licentiously.
    (BabsG XADA@aol.com)

    "I'll take over the cotton industry," he said balefully.
    "I'll drink more German beer," he said, opening a can of worms.
    "I'll stop swallowing toads," he said with a frog in his throat.
    "I'll talk like Mr. Ed," he said hoarsely.
    "I'll wake up early," he said mournfully.
    "I'll study audiology," he said eerily.
    "I will offer my seat to others," he said charitably.
    "I will not sit next to others," he said, beside himself.
    "I will be more aggressive during the auction," the bridge player said morbidly.
    "I'll stop raiding my neighbor's garden," he said in the nick of time.
    "I'll cast myself in plaster," he said, hoping to make a good impression.
    "I will put my luggage in the overhead bin and under the seat in front of me," he said, carrying on.
    "I will not wear shoes," he said, baring his sole.
    "I'll study solids, liquids, and gases," he said matter-of-factly.
    "I will go to Korea," the general said soulfully.

    "I'm going to practice more!" harped the bard.

    "I'll take bachelor number two," the contestant said surprisingly.
    "I resolve not to do the locomotion," Elvis crooned hiply.

    "I pledge to eliminate nuclear weapons," said the President disarmingly.
    "I will improve my psychic abilities," said Luke Skywalker forcefully.
    "I want to be more like Aretha Franklin," said the young singer respectfully.
    "I'm going to push hard for heavy import taxes," said the lobbyist dutifully.
    "This year I will start my new career," said the tailor seamlessly.
    "This year I swear I'll find the Northwest Passage," said Captain Puget soundly.
    "I'll strive to be a better newsman," said Harry reasonably.
    "I'm buying an automatic dough maker this year," said the baker needlessly.
    "I need to brush up on my skills," said the telegrapher remorsefully.
    "This year we're going to port our code to Windows NT," said the programmer resourcefully.
    "This year I'm going to learn Ada," he said objectively.
    "You can never go home again," observed Clinton hopelessly.

    "This year I'm going to bake my own bread," she said hotly. "This year I'm going to stay OUT of the kitchen," he replied coolly. "I wish you'd resolve to weed the lawn," she replied crabbily. "I plan to spend my weekends sailing," he jibed. "And I thought you'd resolved to help around the house," she chortled. "I wonder why we stay together," he replied distantly. "I think I'll try your mother's Black Forest cake recipe once again," she retorted. "My very favorite rich dessert?" he asked sweetly. "Last year you resolved to put your stamps back in order," she recollected. "How about a rematch on our scrabble game," he said winningly. "I do love you, you know," she said heartily. "Almost makes me hear wedding bells again," he chimed in.

    "This year, I think I'll take up hunting," said Harold endearingly.
    "After last year's break-in, I'm getting a watchdog," said Edwina petulantly.
    "I'm finally going to break it off with my Arab prince," said Diana, desultorily.
    Harold said, reservedly, "This year, I'm going to cut out cognac completely."
    "Martha Stewart has inspired me -- this year I'm going to smoke my own meat," sang Doris, hammily.
    "I'm going to reread my favorite play, 'The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds'," said Nora brightly.

    "No more cream-filled, chocolate iced pastries," Tom declared.
    "I will finish building my deck," Tom said woodenly.
    "I won't look at the front or the back of the girls," Tom sighed.
    "I will set the thermostat back to 64," Tom said cooly.
    "I will relieve my tension and fulfill my greatest desires," Tom stressed longingly.
    "I will finish painting the Pennsylvania sign black," Tom stated boldly.

    "I'm going to start bathing more," Todd said, perfunctorily.
    "And while you're at it, wash your hair!" his former girlfriend blathered.

    "I vow to pick up my dry cleaning before the 30-day limit," Marg said impressively.

    "Perhaps I should get another pet," I mused cattily.
    "Maybe we'll stop stomping insects in the house," the kittens purred with an air of rapproachement.
    "I think I should administer a little cod liver oil," I riposted fishily.
    "Or maybe somebody needs to be wormed," I added catatonically.
    "We could cut out the rodent control," they suggested catchily.
    "If we're going to be like that, maybe I'll just buy a Great Dane," I threatened doggedly.
    "Then I could sic the dog on you," I shouted categorically.
    "Maybe I'll try my hand at feline poetry," I decided catastrophically.

    "This year, I will spend less time on the Internet," she murmured ethereally.

    "I'm opening a bicycle repair shop," spoke Mr. LeMond.
    "That's interesting. This year, I'm retrofitting my retread business," Mr. Carver said retiringly.
    "I swear I'm going to win a court case this year," said Marsha with conviction.
    "I'm completing the last stages of my sex-change operation," sallied forth Professor McCloskey.
    "I'm not leaving this city this year except on Amtrak," railed Mr. Madden.
    "I'm hoping to just spread a little sunshine, brighten the corner where I am, and lighten up about life in general," beamed Mr. Rooney.
    Finally, Mr. Schwarzenegger terminated the conversation.

    "I resolve to include more fiber in my diet," Tom said roughly.
    "I will exercise more in 1997," Tom said breathlessly.
    I vow to give up chocolates in '97," Tom snickered.
    I promise not to break my leg NEXT Christmas, Shirley said lamely.

    "I'm going to spend less time surfing the Net," John said in a wave of enthusiasm.

    "I shall not yield!" he said, without interest.

    "This year I will finally write the definitive treatise on stomach muscle development," Arnold Schwarzenegger declared abstractly.
    "I am going to work at being more consistently in tune when I croon in the shower," James Bond's boss said embarrassingly.
    "Now that I've stopped working for the Chicago Sun-Times, I resolve never again to have anything to do with that Nielsen fellow who starred in the 'Naked Gun' movies," Roger Ebert said expressionlessly.

    "I resolve to learn how to drive them big rigs," said Tom, cantankerously.
    "I resolve to buy some new shirts," said Tom, arrogantly.
    "I resolve to cut back on the hot dogs," said Tom, overweeningly.
    "I resolve to be more sympathetic," said Tom, awfully.
    "I resolve to press harder for results," said Tom, ironically.
    "I resolve to balance my checkbook," said Tom, nonplussed.
    "I guess I could resolve to speak up more," Tom allowed.
    "I imagine I could relax more at dinner," Tom supposed.
    "I resolve to increase my word pow -- ," Tom exploded.
    "I resolve to sue the bastards right back!" Tom retorted.
    "I dissolve to nance all right," Thomas'd Prom.

    "I will wear my wedding ring," Tom resolved with abandon.
    "I resolve to film my latest movie again," Madonna reacted inevitably.
    "I resolve to improve my grammar," pronounced Tom reverberatingly.
    "I will find a boyfriend," resolved Tomasina guilelessly.
    "I will vote for Reagan," resolved Tom electronically.
    "I resolve to build fuel tanks for moon flights," shot out Tom apologetically.
    "I will go now," resolved Tom believingly.
    "We resolve to build a tall tower," Tom and Tomasina babble on.
    "To avoid accidents, I will use a mirror to put on my earrings," resolved Tomasina mysteriously.
    "I resolve to teach my goose manners," propagandized Tom.
    "I will continue to take good care of my teeth," resolved Tom precariously.
    "After a bad three years, I will behave correctly this year," resolved Tom forthrightly.
    "I resolve to tell my children the tales about the little people," implored Tom.
    "I will wear a slip," resolved Tomasina shiftlessly.
    "We will party into the night," resolved Tom and Tomasina scintillatingly.
    "I will stop running into beds," resolved Tom rambunctiously.
    "I will continue to meet you below the bleachers," resolved Tom understandably.
    "I resolve to go out with a libertine," elucidated Tom.
    "I am going to have my next birthday," eight-year old Tom resolved benignly.
    "I will sing only serious songs," resolved Beverly Sills opportunely.
    "I will hide a knife blade in my shoe," resolved the prisoner inconsolably.
    "I will use only my kosher plates," resolved Tom judiciously.
    "I resolve to eat my pancakes sweetened," flipped Tom surreptitiously.
    "I will beautify the ugly Egyptian water horse at the zoo," resolved Tom hypocritically.
    "I will write a poem about the barrenness of winter," resolved Tomasina obliquely.
    "Son, I will raise your allowance to 20 cents a weeks," resolved Tom paradigmatically.

    "This year, I'll fall in love," I said heartily.

    "I'm giving the air to my heirs," he promised flightily.
    "No longer will I be a runner-up," he resolved dashingly.
    "I'm steering clear of the dives," promised the drunkard swimmingly.

    "Although I say acerbic things to acids, I would never tell a lye," he said caustically. "That would be base."

    "We'll climb to the very tip of New York's Empire State Building, and Toronto's CN Tower," said Jack to Jill, inspirationally.
    "We'll do one better; we'll climb the Matterhorn and Everest," said Tom and Judy haughtily.

    "I'll eat all of those clams myself," Tom said, shellfishly.

    Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.