Wonky Words in the World

Wonky words. You can find them anywhere: on billboards, on beer bottles, on bus-stop signs. I’m talking about words that make you go hmmm. I’m talking about the kind of writing that makes word nerds groan.

Why stop at groaning? Let’s have some fun with these egregiosities. I propose writing captions for them. I do that on my Pinterest board “Wonky & Wondrous Words in the World.”  (I owe my inspiration for this board to Jacquie Samuels’s TechWhirl post “Pinterest: What My Mother Can Teach You About Content Strategy and Technical Communications.”) I’d lay odds that caption writing, like bridge playing and crossword puzzling, staves off Alzheimer’s. Even if it doesn’t, caption writing provides an endless source of free entertainment.

Here are some wonky-word examples that I’ve photographed and captioned.

Many Stops Do Not Follow

1. Why don’t they?

"Cake Wrecks" book

2. Under neat that, we will not pay for this cake.  (This book is a hilarious collection of wonky words on cakes. See www.cakewrecks.com.)

No Trespassing Allowed

3. Where can I trespass, then?


4. Can I get shoup with that?

Red Spoon Promise

5. No telling what the Black Spoon Promise is.

Stop Wet Concrete

6. Why? What did it do?

See inside for details

7. Good to know. Wait. Isn’t this an envelope?

To Each Their Own

8. They has come a long way.


9. I just want to know … flush up or down?

Do Not Throw Away


Happy Child Hood

11. A happy child cape, though, you can forget about. (I mocked up this bumper sticker to match the one that got away before I could photograph it.)


12. Maybe on the back.

Best Gluten

13. You get the best gluten—and free pizza. All without leaving town.

Gravel Road

14. Naming a road “Gravel” is like naming a person “Baby.”

I’d love to hear about wonky words you’ve encountered. Have you noticed nutty nuances in the newspaper? Come across a kooky catchphrase in a commercial? Been bewildered by a botched bit of banter? Felt aghast over an ad gone awry? Leave a comment—with your caption.

This post first appeared November 20, 2013, in my TechWhirl column, “Word Wise.”
Reblogged December 19, 2013, on the Hurley Write blog.

4 thoughts on “Wonky Words in the World

  1. Bobbi, Wasn’t it a sweet moment, though, when you first saw “free pizza”?

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