Fun With Words

A wall in our kitchen contains messed up similes I’ve said that my children have been accumulating  for years.  A few include, “Uncle Joe was a big cheese in a big pond.”  And “You’ve got vision like a squirrel,” and the one that started the list, “He has a memory like a hawk.”  I have a habit of playing with words in strange ways. 

However, in a presentation this tendency can demand attention from your audience that will make your ideas more memorable. 

A good source for fun words is greeting cards.  Browse your local card store.  One of my favorites is “I used to get lost in the shuffle.  Now I just shuffle along with the lost.”

One of my wife’s favorites is “It will all be OK in the end.” And on the inside: “If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”

Country music titles are enjoyable.  Two of my favorites include “All My Exes Live in Texas,” sung by George Strait, and, “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?” written by Marty Bloom .

The title of my farewell speech when I left the university last spring was, “Meandering Thoughts of One Meandering Into the Sunset.”  Look for fun word combinations by going to Vital Speeches of the Day and perusing the index for clever titles. 

Personal dialogue is rich with humorous phrases and words.  For example, my wife and I have been taking ballroom dancing lessons for many years and Greg has been our dance instructor for most of those years.  A few months ago, I was having trouble learning a new step and getting frustrated.rnrnI said, “I’m not sure I’ll ever get this step!” rnrnGreg’s response:  “Steve, you give me job security.” (Unfortunately true!)

The question and answer period at a press conference can be a place rich with light phrases and clever combinations of words. After a tough loss, Bill Fitch, a professional basketball coach for 25 years, responded to a question about communicating with his team: “I kept feeling like the Hindu snake charmer with a deaf cobra.” 

Even service trucks on the highway can make you smile.  As we were walking in Key West, Florida, this sign was on the back of a truck that passed us:  “Plumbing to please in the Florida Keys.” 

I’m not sure I agree with my family’s analysis of my similes.  I see nothing wrong in saying, “Playing the clarinet is like trying to get music from banging a clothesline against a pole.”

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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