TCPB #2: “Don’t man the phone—phone the man!”

The second installment in my commonplace book analyzes a line from the hilarious children’s television show Phineas and Ferb. When Stacy becomes exasperated with Candace waiting for her boyfriend to call, she says:

“Don’t man the phone—phone the man!”

I love this clever inversion: the same words are used in reverse order and with different meanings. In fact, this sentence is only grammatical because “phone” and “man” can both be either nouns or verbs.

After trying to think of some other noun/verb pairs that work together, here’s what I came up with:

  • For the concept of giving everything you own its own place to live:

    Don’t clutter the house—house the clutter!

  • For pacifism:

    Don’t bomb the hate—hate the bomb!

  • For social media addiction:

    Don’t mind your feed—feed your mind!

It’s pretty fun! Can you come up with your own examples?

5 thoughts on “TCPB #2: “Don’t man the phone—phone the man!”

  1. Love this. Especially the social media one!
    There’s a rhetorical name for this inversion I just can’t think of what it is…
    I have nothing original to add, but I do wonder if I missed the second installment of your TCPB? My feed only had #1 and #3…


    1. Thanks! I think it might be antimetabole, though there might be a more specific word for when you also change the meanings or parts of speech of the words.

      There isn’t a blog post for entry #2 in my book, because I’m not always successful at devising my own variants of the clever writing I see. Now that you mention it, it does seem confusing to use a number system that makes sense to no one else and that I probably won’t keep track of anyway, so I’m going to change this one to #2. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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