"'Stand back,' Tom ejaculated!" Origin of the "Tom Swifty"?

I was reading the Wikipedia article on the Tom Swift novels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Swift), and was surprised to find this sentence:

:confused: So where did the Tom Swifty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Swifty) actually come from? And how did it get that name attached to it?

You can do a search of some old Tom Swift books on Amazon.

In the first hit I got, Tom Swift and His Airship I found: “cried Tom quickly.”

In Tom Swift and his Motorcycle I found: “retorted Andy savagely.”

Those were the only examples in either short excerpt. So the form does exist, but not in any major way.

Maybe they get used more in other books in the series. I don’t know if the same author wrote every single one. It could just be that the general awfulness of the tone and dialog made the jokester think of Tom.

Multiple authors wrote Tom Swift: it was a product of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, and there were several series (a later one feature Tom Swift, Jr.).

While the except of the earliest books doesn’t have much in the standard “he said adverbly,” the speech tags are extremely awkward to modern ears: “replied the young man,” “went on the man,” “advised Tom Swift,” “advised Mr. Sharp,” “answered the lad,” etc. I can’t find a instance of a simple “he said.”

They don’t hit you in the eye, but if you look at the oldest books, adjectivized ejaculations are used a little more than they ought to be, ideally.

Two instances of “said Tom quickly” in one brief exchange seems particularly awkward.

Perhaps the Wikipedia contributor is only meant to say that the series wasn’t full of puns?

Adjectivized, eh? :dubious: :smack:

“I dropped the toothpaste,” Tom said, crestfallen.

Well, somebody had to…

“They just had to trade him to Boston,” Tom said, ruthlessly.

“Someone turned the lights off,” Tom said, darkly.

“I’ve lost my gloves” said Tom, offhandedly.

Please make me stop.

“Tell me about the ‘Dog Star’,” Tom said seriously.

“Let’s go to a hockey game,” said Tom puckishly.

“When come back, bring pie,” demanded Tom, tartly.

And the classic:

“I’m into gay necrophelia,” said Tom in dead ernest.


“I don’t like this fish,” Tom carped.

I always assumed that they were called “Tom Swiftys” because they were very brief. Swift, as it were, although the frequent use of adverbs in the Tom Swift books (if that was the case – I never read them) would’ve helped it along.
Just so’s you know, by the way, the “Tom Swift” books most of us are familiar with isn’t the original series. Those high-tech books with names like “Tom Swift and his Gravitational AeroBathySphere” by “Victor Appleton III” date from the 1950s, and are in imitation of the original circa 1910 series with much less ambitious titles like “Tom Swift and his Electric Bicycle” by “Victor Appleton”, the putative grandfather of V.A. III. All the Victor Appletons are, of course, house names disguiising a variety of authors. The 1950s vintage Tom Swift is supposed to be Tom Swift, Jr.

And th tradition of Boy Inventors long predates both Tom Swifts – “Boy’s Papers” of the 1870s featured the adventures of Frank Reede and his Mechanical Man of the Prairies and the like.

“I need new shoes,” said Tom, archly.

“I made it out of a copper alloy,” said Tom, brazenly.

“How disarming,” said Captain Hook, off-handedly.

“I’m glad I passed my electrocardiogram,” Tom said wholeheartedly.

and the opposite:

“I’m dying,” Tom croaked.

“I can clean out drains with my mouth”, said Tom succinctly.

Shouldn’t that be “They just had to trade him to the New York Yankees,” Tom said, ruthlessly.

“We need to offer creative control or we’ll never be able to cast the young-female lead,” said Tom disiningenuously.

Sorry, “disingenuously.”

“I’am so excited!”, Tom said ridgedly.

“Good morning”, Tom said woodenly.

Am I doing this right?