The wellerism--so called in English because it is a form of expression typical or reminiscent of Sam Weller or his father, two celebrated characters in Dickens's Pickwick Papers--is a major subtype of the proverb. Known since Sumerian times, it has been popular in most European languages and some African languages. As defined by folklorists and proverb scholars, a wellerism consists of three parts: a speech or statement (often a proverb), identification of the speaker, and identification of the situation, which gives the expression an ironic or humorous twist, often in the form of a pun.
A- "Prevention is better than cure," said the pig when it ran away from the butcher.
A- "We'll have to rehearse that," said the undertaker as the coffin fell out of the car.
A Dictionary of Wellerisms is the first work to collect all of the wellerisms recorded in the English language. Drawing on periodical literature and other scholarly sources, Mieder and Kingsbury have assembled, edited, and annotated a collection of wellerisms including over 1500 texts found in British, American, Canadian, and other English-language literatures and oral collections. Mieder's preface, bibliography, and extensive introduction explaining the history, meaning, and function of wellerisms, are supplemented by an index of speakers and an index of situations.
Containing a wealth of wit and humor, A Dictionary of Wellerisms is both entertaining and informative, appealing to the casual browser as well as to students and scholars of literature, psychology, folklore, linguistics, anthropology, and cultural history.
"A splendid idea and a first in the English language. All libraries will want a copy; all scholars concerned with the English language will find it of interest. There is no competitive volume."--Alan Dundes, University of California, Berkeley
"A most delightful collection of...proverbial puns. The volume's a wonderful browser."--King Features Syndicate
"A Dictionary of Wellerisms...brings together the first complete collection of examples in English, drawing on literature, journalism, popular culture, and the Margaret Bryant collection of proverbial speech."--Asian Folklore Studies
"Students and scholars of literature, folklore, linguistics and cultural history will appreciate this unusual collection of satyrical wit and humor..."--Come-All-Ye